A massive recruitment scam is exposed by the active agricultural student associations of Maharashtra. Since last few months students of agricultural universities of Maharashtra are angry due to the oppressive recruitment regime of incumbent Director Dr. Lakhan Singh. Agricultural Student associations have sent hundreds of emails to the union agricultural ministers and officers of ICAR to investigate this scam. Student demands are firms because they have all the proofs received through RTIs and soon a massive agitation is planned by the agricultural students.

ICAR-Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute Pune on 20 July 2018 published advertisement for recruiting Senior Research Fellow under Pulse and Oilseeds projects funded by Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. According to this advertisement several posts were filled including Senior Research Fellow under CFLD Oilseeds Project. Information received under Right to Information Act exposed that a young lady recruited as Senior Research Fellow under CFLD Oilseeds Project is ineligible for this post. She was forcefully recruited despite being ineligible for the post of Senior Research Fellow. As per the Published Advertisement by ICAR ATARI Pune, candidates with postgraduate degrees in agriculture and allied sciences were eligible for the post of Senior Research Fellow.

However, this woman had a non-agricultural postgraduate degree (MBA) from the University of Pune, which is absolutely ineligible. Nevertheless, this woman has been appointed by Director Dr Lakhan Singh by breaking the rules. In fact, the young lady was not in the possession of MBA degree, which is ineligible, at the time of recruitment interview. This is a very serious scam which harmed employment rights of many agricultural students.

It was found that In June 2017 that young lady was appointed as a Data Entry Operator with salary of Rs 15,000 at ICAR-ATARI Pune. However, prior to joining at ICAR-ATARI Pune, this woman was registered for the MBA course offered by Pune University (academic year 2016 to 2018). This woman obtained a full-time MBA degree from 2016–18 while working in the ICAR-ATARI Pune office. As per the recruitment undertaking one cannot pursue full-time government job and full-time educational degrees simultaneously. It’s a talk in the town that young lady got full-time university degree because of unethical help of Dr. Lakhan Singh, Director ICAR-ATARI Pune.

This female employee was re-appointed in the year 2018 at ICAR-ATARI Pune regardless of appropriate educational qualification (MBA). This young lady by the grace of Director Dr. Lakhan Singh, jumped from Rs 15,000 to Rs 40,000 in a single year. The scandal has brought injustice to the candidates who are postgraduate and PhD holders from agricultural universities. In the ongoing Corona global epidemic many deserving candidates lost their jobs and many become unemployed. Unfortunately, by doing such a scams officers like Director Dr. Lakhan Singh are cheating the farmers of the country in a broad daylight.

While digging information about the concerned female employee, it was noticed that this young lady is behaving as a “Pseudo Director” in ICAR-ATARI Pune.

This matter raised several questions among agricultural student fraternity such as Why MBA graduate was hired instead of Agricultural Postgraduate candidate as mentioned in advertisement? The young lady was not in the possession of MBA degree at the time of recruitment then why she was hired by breaking all rules? How that lady managed job in government office as well as achieved full time MBA degree simultaneously?  These revelations pointed that Dr. Lakhan Singh supported that lady from year 2017.

Now all agricultural student associations are demanding that a high-level committee from the ministry of Agriculture to investigate this scam and to punish the corrupt officer. At present digital protest is implemented by Agricultural Student Associations considering the outbreak of Covid-19. One-week time is given to ICAR for sending investigation team to Pune. If not, then protests at various locations will be organized by various agriculture students’ associations said by Dr. Rohit Chawhan, President, Agricultural Doctorates Association.

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