CBMR Lucknow: Two research scholars sacked; one seeks gov't intervention to regain admission

In his fight to regain admission into the institute, the scholar has sent emails to the Chief Secretary, CM and Deputy CM for help
CBMR Lucknow | (Pic: CBMR website)
CBMR Lucknow | (Pic: CBMR website)

The admission of two PhD scholars from the Centre of Biomedical Research (CBMR), Lucknow, was terminated in June this year, though the scholars' research work was not completed. One of them, Nikhil Gupta, in his fight to regain admission into the institute, sent emails to the Chief Secretary, Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for help. In the absence of a response, he sent fresh reminders to the government last week.

When asked about the reason for termination, Nikhil claims that the authorities informed him that since his fellowship period came to an end in June, he was ineligible to continue. Allegedly, he was only verbally informed about it by the authorities, and no official notice was handed to him. "After the verbal communication, I was prevented from entering the campus," he alleges.

The scholar also claims that his admission at CBMR had nothing to do with the fellowship period, and he could not be terminated on that basis, as per the rules set by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), under which CBMR is regulated. "On one hand, I am told that I'm no longer a student at CBMR, while on the other hand, I'm being asked to clear my dues!" Nikhil says. He is a PhD scholar from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), completing his research work at CBMR and he had received the termination notice on June 27.

Another termination
The very next day, on June 28, another PhD scholar from the institute, who was only working on his research there, was also terminated. "The authorities told me that my five-year PhD tenure at the institute had come to an end. Now, I was aware of it and had applied for an extension. It is common for institutes to grant extensions to research scholars, as research work often takes longer than five years. But mine was not granted, and I was terminated, without any intimation on my extension application, any word about the institute planning such a move, or any inquiry. What happened was unethical," the scholar says, on the condition of anonymity. However, he confirmed to have received an official word about his termination, unlike Nikhil.

Both researchers affirm that their research work has been affected due to the sudden termination. Though they will be receiving their PhD degrees from their respective institutes, falling back on their research has mentally agonised them. "I needed only three more months to complete my work!" Nikhil's colleague laments. 

Nikhil also alleges harassment from the institute. The room where the scholars used to sit was locked after their termination, about which they were informed via an email from Dr Dinesh Kumar, Department of Advanced Spectroscopy and Imaging, CBMR. As per the email, which has been shared with EdexLive, the students would be allowed into the room only after it had been videographed and in the presence of a third person. "As you are not a bonafide student of CBMR,  you will not be sitting in the student room from now onward and also not working neither in my lab nor in the 600/800 MHz NMR lab. Hope you will abide by the rules," reads a part of the email, a copy of which was sent to the admin office by Dr Kumar.

Further, the scholars mention that their terminations were in adherence to the director's orders, a fact which was confirmed by a faculty member at CBMR. "The scholars were terminated for sure. I am not aware of what the official communications to them conveyed, or on what grounds the move was taken," says Assistant Professor Dr Dharmendra Kumar Tiwari.

Notably, other allegations against Prof Alok Dhawan, Director of CBMR, have been rife. A scholar, on the condition of anonymity, stated that Prof Dhawan was in the habit of making his own rules for PhD scholars, without sanction from CSIR. "We receive an annual contingency of Rs 20,000, which can be increased under certain criteria. But when we apply, the authorities tell us it can't be done. Also, CSIR grants 30 casual leaves for researchers, but the authorities do not sanction more than 2.5 days of leave at a time. When we point out the rules, they tell us they are acting as per the director's orders," the student alleges.

According to a few local news reports, an inquiry is ongoing into a case of misappropriation of funds against Prof Dhawan.

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