Meghalaya’s private universities are back in the news again, this time the CBI chargesheeting four persons in an alleged financial scam in the Martin Luther Christian University and an NGO complaining that another university – Techno Global University – does not exist at all.
This comes less than six months after the state government had dissolved the controversial CMJ University and the police arrested its chancellor Chandra Mohan Jha following whole-sale award of PhDs and other degrees by the private university.
Confirming the contents of the chargesheet, CBI’s law officer and counsel Anindita Y Sarki said four persons including a former registrar of the MLC University have been named in the alleged misappropriation of funds worth Rs 3.93 crore that was released to the university by North Eastern Council (NEC) for setting up a career training institute.
“We have named four persons. They are former MLC University registrar Rev Edwin Harris Kharkongor, contractor Orianda Kharkongor, engineer Glostick Lyngdoh and architect cum project consultant Delmonica Rowena Shullai,” the CBI counsel told The Indian Express from Shillong on Wesnesday.
While NEC released the first installment of Rs 1.11 crore under Infrastructure Development of Educational Institute in the name of Rev Edwin Hariss Kharkongor, the officer allegedly kept Rs one crore out of this in fixed deposits in four separate accounts of Rs 25 lakh each. According to the CBI chargesheet the former registrar showed utilization of funds by stating that construction was going on. When the matter came to light, NEC stopped releasing money and the CBI seized three of the four fixed deposits, while one had already been withdrawn, the counsel said.
The chief judicial magistrate of Shillong, in whose court the CBI submitted its chargesheet, has fixed December 5 as the next date of hearing and asked the four including ex-registrar Rev Kharkongor to appear before the Court, the CBI counsel said.
The MLC University authorities however have denied any misappropriation of funds as alleged. “We have not seen the contents of the CBI chargesheet as yet. Whatever we have come to know is only on the basis of some local newspaper reports. There has been no misappropriation as alleged. We will consult of lawyers before making any further comment,” DD Ingty, the present registrar of MLC University said from Shillong over the telephone. One among eight private universities in Meghalaya, MLC University was created by an Act passed by the Meghalaya State Assembly in 2005.
Meanwhile, a local youth body called Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) has complained that Techno Global University, another private university in Meghalaya existed only on paper. HYC leader Donboklang Kharlyngdoh said a delegation that had gone to the university’s campus found the rented house in which it had its address under lock and key.
“Something is seriously wrong somewhere. Established about six years ago the university is yet to function. No one was present in the premises except the chowkidar and class rooms and offices wore a deserted look,” Kharlyngdoh said.
When contacted over the telephone, Prof S Bhattacharya, whose name was given as contact person in Techno Global University’s website said he was not authorized to speak to the media. “But the allegations are false,” he claimed, disconnecting the telephone and refusing to talk further.