Srinagar: A letter sent to J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha by a group of anonymous candidates for the post of Vice Chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU), Rajouri, has alleged “naked fraud committed by the search-cum-selection committee” wherein chairman of the committee along with another member are trying to “accommodate their near and dear ones, who otherwise would not have figured in the list of shortlisted candidates”.
The search-cum-selection committee, which is headed by Vice Chancellor Kashmir University Prof Talat Ahmad, was set up by the government earlier this year to recommend a panel of candidates for the post advertised vide a notification on August 14. Nearly seventy candidates within and outside J&K had applied for the top post.
While the “standard practice is to shortlist 8 to 10 applicants” based on academic and administrative experience and research output, as many as 18 applicants were “for the first time” shortlisted and called for interaction recently by the search-cum-selection committee, the letter sent by the aggrieved applicants, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Reader, says.
“This is a clear breach of trust, which was imposed by the highest office of Lt Governor which speaks volumes about their (committee members) unethical conduct,” it says.
The letter says that while the VC Kashmir University “favoured” officers in the KU administration who have applied for the post, a candidate from Central University of Kashmir who happens to be a close relative of Vice Chancellor CUK, one of the members of the search-cum-selection committee, “was unduly favoured by shortlisting her, who otherwise under all circumstances would not have figured in the list of shortlisted candidates”.
As per the letter, the “malafide intent of the Search-cum-Selection Committee members had become explicitly clear on the day of interaction” wherein the “uncalled for behavior and actions” of the members “was shocking, rather extremely disgusting for most of the applicants”.
The applicants say that prior to the interaction, which happened on October 20, they received a communication from the Joint Registrar BGSBU on behalf of the Search-cum-Selection Committee asking them to prepare power point presentations (PPP) for the committee to be followed by a 15-minute interaction.
While the candidates turned up “not only with the PPPs, when the first candidate came out of the interaction in just 8 to 10 minutes only, everyone present there was shocked to learn that the committee members had said that due to the “constraint of time”, there will be no power point presentation and very briefly the applicants will have to speak about their vision for BGSBU, the letter reads.
As per the letter, the Vice Chancellor Kashmir University “did not allow the candidates to introduce themselves to the members”, which was “more disturbing, rather insulting”.
“Forget about allowing introducing properly, during the very brief 8 to 10 minutes unorganised and unprofessional interaction, the Chairman used to intervene by asking to be brief and irritatingly reminding they do not have time. This can be ascertained from the video recordings of the interaction,” the letter reads.
The applicants say that the interaction started at around 11am on October 20 and ended at 4:15pmwith a lunch break for one-and-a-half hour.
“Therefore, the total interaction time, both online and offline, for 18 shortlisted candidates works out to be 225 minutes. If we minus the set up time of one and half minute for each candidate, the net interaction time comes to around 200 minutes. Therefore, on an average each candidate was given 8 to 9 minutes for interaction. Even for appointing an office assistant, at least a thorough interview is conducted for more than 20 to 30 minutes,” explains the letter.
It alleges that “not allowing a detailed and thorough interaction with the shortlisted candidates was with a clear design, which is, not to allow the better candidates to steal the show, so that the predetermined selection of their chosen people is carried out without any difficulty”.
The letter further goes on to allege that on October 18, two days before the interaction day, “a dinner party was hosted at Lalit Palace (hotel in Srinagar) on the night of 18th of October” wherein “close associates of the Chairman (VC KU) of the committee figuring among the shortlisted candidates were invited along with their families, which can be ascertained from the Management of Lalit Palace”.
“Having a grand dinner party a day before the interaction meeting makes the malafide intent of the Chairman very explicit and beyond any doubt,” the letter says.
The letter alleges that “favouring their own chosen candidates on the basis of personal association, may be even for monetary gratification, is the worst kind of treachery and the breach of trust imposed by the office of Lt Governor with the chairman of the committee.”
The applicants have demanded “high-level enquiry to investigate about the misconduct in the selection of Vice Chancellor for BGSBU”.
Two of the applicants who appeared in the interaction on October 20 confirmed the contents in the letter.
Talking to Kashmir Reader on the condition of anonymity, the senior professors unanimously alleged that they were allotted barely ten minutes for the interaction.
“Even if you have to recruit an orderly, you interview the candidate for half an hour. Here it is a prestigious position of Vice Chancellor, so you got to invest more time,” one of the applicants said.
The other applicant said that the rush during the interaction “in disregard of norms implies that there is a predetermined selection already been done. This is just a formality now”.
Prof Talat Ahmad, the chairman of the search-cum-selection committee, was not available for his comments on the allegations.
Vice Chancellor CUK, Prof Meraj ud Din Mir, a member of the search-cum-selection committee, when asked about his relation with one of the candidates, said, “She is in my relation, but that is irrelevant to this matter. I know what is conflict of interest.”