Help in graft or get debarred: Prof to researcher

Help in graft or get debarred: Prof to researcher

A North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) professor is under the CBI scanner after a research scholar accused him of forcing him to be part of corruption and threatening him to cancel his fellowship and debar him from doing his PhD if he did not cooperate.

The CBI registered a case last Friday in Shillong after receiving a complaint from Raghuvendra Pratap Tripathi, a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in NEHU, against Associate Professor Dinesh Bhatia.

Tripathi is conducting research for a government-sponsored project 'Design of Neural Network based Pacemaker in NEHU under Bhatia, who is also the Head of the Department and the principal investigator of the project.

According to the CBI, Bhatia allegedly uses fake bills to embezzle government funds, get it transferred to Tripathi's bank account and receive the money in cash from the research scholar.

In his complaint, which is part of the FIR, Tripathi has claimed that Bhatia used to clear fake bills in the name of enterprises located in Uttar Pradesh's Sonebhadra showing that medical and electronic items have been purchased.

“Bhatia puts me under constant pressure to prepare such false/fake bills and asks me to process the bills. After sanction of the bills, payments are being made to the firm, in whose name false bills were prepared and fact, no such items were received...,” he claimed.

Once the money is transferred to the firm, the complaint said, one R Gupta, who is a representative of the firms, pays the bill amount to Bhatia after deducting his commission. Gupta will transfer the amount to Tripathi's account and later Bhatia will ask him to hand over the money.

“...Bhatia put me under constant pressure and threatens me that if I do not follow his instructions to deposit the illegal money in my account and to pay him in cash...he will discontinue my fellowship and get me debarred from my PhD. Due to constant pressure and threats from Dr Dinesh Bhatia now, I am depressed and under tremendous mental pressure and I do not want to facilitate corrupt practices...,” Tripathi said.

He has also recorded his conversations with Bhatia for past some time in order to collect evidence to “prove my innocence”, he said.

According to Tripathi, Bhatia told him to prepare fake bills of Rs 1.30 lakh but before the cash was collected, the research scholar proceeded on leave. Bhatia allegedly told Tripathi to contact Gupta for Rs 50,000. Gupta however said that he did not have cash and that he would transfer the money.

After Tripathi rejoined duty on November 15, Tripathi informed Bhatia about not getting the cash and that Gupta had told him that he would transfer Rs 90,000 to the account of either Bhatia or Tripathi.

Bhatia, the complaint said, instructed Tripathi to ask for half the money immediately via bank transfer to the latter's account. On November 22, Bhatia asked him to withdraw Rs 40,000, which was given by Gupta, and give it to him the next day.

However, Tripathi claimed that he did not want to be associated with these illegal activities and approached the CBI. “I have not received any share/part thereof from his directly/indirectly,” he added.