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‘They stole from us’: K’taka medical students accuse college of looting stipends

Police suspect that MVJ Medical College and Research Centre in Karnataka’s Hoskote financially exploited the students to the tune of Rs 25 crore.

Hundreds of students studying at MVJ Medical College and Research Centre in Karnataka’s Hoskote say they have landed in a trap. Students say that the college’s management has been looting their stipends, rendering many of them helpless and unable to pay off their student loans.

The college’s management has also been accused of intimidating students by threatening to stop them from writing their exams if they file a complaint. 27-year-old Dr Prashant G Koppal filed a complaint with the Hoskote Police in October 2018 against the college’s management. Prashant, who joined the college in 2015, says he was unable to withstand the financial exploitationwaited for his the completion of his course to file the complaint, fearing backlash from the management.

The Hoskote Police registered an FIR under sections 420 (cheating), 384 (punishment for extortion) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) against the Chairman MJ Mohan, the Chief Executive Officer Dharani Mohan, Executive Director Mohan Rao, Principal VSM Raghuram, Medical Superintendent SM Surendranath Singh and Chief Casualty Medical Officer Anjan Reddy.

The Bengaluru Sessions Court on November 17, 2018, had ordered the arrest of all the accused in the case. However, on Tuesday, the Karnataka High Court granted bail to the accused.

The alleged fraud

“I had taken a student loan to study MBBS and I had to take another loan to pursue MD. The fee per annum was Rs 5 lakh at MVJ. I was depending on the stipend to pay off the EMI for the loan I had taken for MBBS. The college did not give us the stipend even for even one month,” Prashant told TNM.

According to the rules laid down by Medical Council of India, every postgraduate student has to be given a minimum stipend per month. MCI rules dictate that first year postgraduate students have to be given a stipend of Rs 30,000 per month, second year students must get Rs 35,000 and final year students must get Rs 40,000 per month.

Several students and alumni of the college that TNM spoke to alleged that the management opened up bank accounts in Karur Vysya Bank for each new student admitted to the college. The college’s accounts department, then allegedly withheld their cheque books, debit cards and passbooks.

According to an Alumnus Dr Arjun Chinnappa, the management allegedly forced the students to sign on all the leaflets in the cheque book. “There is a clerk in the accounts department named Hari. He would make all the students sign on the blank cheques. When the stipend would get debited to our accounts, he would go to the bank and en cash all the cheques. They were bearer cheques. In the account statement it shows that we have withdrawn the money but the college is not giving us a single penny,” Dr Arjun added.

The alleged intimidation

Dr Arjun and Dr Prashant paid a visit to the bank in August 2018 and requested a photocopy of the cheques which were en cashed on their behalf. “When a cheque is en cashed, the person withdrawing the money is asked to sign at the back of the cheque. Hari’s signature is there on all the cheques. When we questioned him, told us that our exam hall tickets would be withheld if we did not abide by the management’s words,” Dr Prashant said.

Dr Prashant also recorded a video of Hari demanding that they sign on blank cheques, a copy of which is available with TNM. In the video recorded by prashant, Hari is heard telling Dr Arjun that the leaflets in his cheque book were over and he had to sign on blank cheques in a new one. When Dr Arjun questions him and says he would not, Hari tells him that he is following management’s orders.

In 2017, Dr Arjun had refused to sign blank cheques and demanded to know what was happening to his stipend. The day after he brought up the issue, Dr Arjun was suspended from the college after the Principal was allegedly ordered to do so by the Chairman MJ Mohan.

Dr Arjun was suspended on the grounds of medical negligence. “There was no disciplinary committee meeting. There was no reason for negligence at all. I filed a complaint with the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, to which our college is affiliated. Two months later, the management asked me to withdraw my complaint regarding the misappropriation of funds and in return they revoked my suspension,” Dr Arjun said.

Students at the college allege that after the FIR was registered in October 2018, the management is forcing them to withdraw the stipend money and then hand it over to CEO Dharani Mohan’s office.

Vishwas*, a  student pursuing his postgraduate degree, alleged, “When the police came to talk to the students, they wanted us to say that we were withdrawing the money. Since October I had not given Dharani Ma’am the money. But now I have received a letter asking to hand it over or the college is threatening not to send the synopsis to the university for review.”

Police sources say that the cheques and the bank statements do not match as the bank personnel say that one person would submit 180 cheques and withdraw the money in bulk. “There is a paper trail to prove that the college was cheating the students. The charge sheet is yet to be filed. Since the accused have got bail, we can arrest them after charge sheet is filed,” an investigating officer said.

The college’s stand

Speaking to TNM, CEO of MVJ Medical College and Research Centre, Dharani Mohan, said that the college’s management has not indulged in any fraudulent activities.

“Those who have filed a complaint with the police are doing it because of personal vendetta. The college has been paying the stipends on time. Students have been withdrawing the money too. Since the matter is in court, we will wait for the court to reply. I would not like to comment further on the matter,” Dharani Mohan said.

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