They were the whos who of West Bengals flourishing medical fraternity. Naren Pandey was a top allergy and asthma specialist practicing at one of the citys premier hospitals. Shubhendu Bhattacharya was a general medicine expert felicitated by none other than President Pranab Mukherjee in May this year. Aradeep Chatterjee, an MD in integrative oncology was equally sought after and known as much for his flashy lifestyle and his swanky BMW.
Today, the three are among three dozen others behind bars for having fake medical degrees.
Pandey had even failed his Class 12 examination and began his career as a distributor of unani medicines before donning the role of a doctor. Bhattacharya never studied in any recognised medical college while Chatterjee twice dropped out of a homeopathy college.
Police have sealed the office of Ramesh Baidya, principal of Barasat Bio-Chemical Medical College. From this office in Barasat (North 24 Parganas district) Baidya has sold hundreds of fake degrees, CID sleuths alleged. (Samir Jana)
But lack of qualification never deterred them from making it big, courtesy a racket run by a slew of dubious medical colleges that thrived as much as the professional careers of fake doctors they helped to produce.
The lid on the racket was first blown off during the first week of May when two doctors, Kushiram Haldar and Kaizar Alam, were arrested from Alipurduar and North Dinajpur districts. They had degrees from a fictitious college and were employed at government-run primary health centres. Alam had even worked at Kolkatas Ruby General Hospital one of the citys most sought-after medical care facilities.
Police investigations picked up speed after the first arrests and more doctors had their skeletons tumbling out of their cupboards. Among them was Gopal Biswas, a dentist in Falakata of Cooch Behar district in north Bengal.
Police estimate the number of fake doctors in the state between 500 and 550. At the heart of the fake medical eco-system are the fake universities and colleges.
The locked house of Suresh Agawal, founder president of Indian Board of Alternative Medicine in Bhawanipore, Kolkata. Agarwal allegedly sold fake degrees from an office barely a km away. (Samir Jana)
People with fake degrees from such institutions are practising not only in top private hospitals in Kolkata, and private health facilities in different parts of Bengal, but also in Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar, a senior police officer said.
The institutes named in the FIR are Alternative Medical Council Calcutta (AMCC) at Barasat, Indian Board of Alternative Medicine (IBAM) at Bhawanipore, Council of Alternative Systems of Medicines (CASM) at Behala and Indian Council of Alternative Medicine (ICAM) at Bowbazar.
Police claimed, these institutions had no affiliations whatsoever and awarded tens of thousands of fake degrees to aspirants from all over India and even the United States, Italy, Russia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
No classes were held in these colleges and all degrees were awarded by them after correspondence courses. Under Medical Council of India( MCI) rules, only three regulatory bodies are entitled to issue approval to institutes for teaching medicine: MCI for modern medicine; the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and the Central Council of Homeopathy (CCH) for alternative medicine.
But the four blacklisted institutions and a host of other colleges gave out medical degrees undeterred. Rama Shankar Tiwari, a practicing doctor in Howrah district had obtained his degree from the Howrah Central Calcutta Medical College operating out of a nondescript house in Jagaccha. The college has awarded some 20,000 degrees so far, CID officials suspect.
But how the fake institutes flourished for so long is yet to be determined. The state medical council has woken up now and pledged to rid the state of the menace.
I am the whistleblower and I am coordinating with the CID. We will rid the system of fake practitioners, said Nirmal Majhi, the chairman of the council and a close aide of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
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