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JEHANGIR ALI | 15 MAY, 2015

J&K Crime Branch Files FIR in PM Scholarship Fraud

Spare the students !


SRINAGAR : The Jammu and Kashmir police has registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy against unnamed consultancies and individuals who deceived Kashmiri youths in lieu of providing them admissions in colleges across the country under the Prime Minister's Special Scholarship Scheme.

Inspector General of Police (Crime), Muneer Khan said several complaints were filed by the state higher education department since 2013, seeking investigations into the alleged fraud played out on the middle-class students of Kashmir who wanted to avail the benefits of the scheme and pursue higher education.

A senior police officer said some NGOs and consultancies who were promoting themselves as "consulting agencies" for the scheme in the state have been named in the complaints, some of which have been filed by the aggrieved parents.

"A preliminary enquiry was ordered into the matter. Prima facie, a case of cheating along with criminal conspiracy has been made out. We have registered a case and the investigation has been tasked to the SP who will be assisted by two gazetted officers," Khan told The Citizen.

The scholarship scheme, introduced just after the 2010 summer unrest that left over 120 civilians dead, was part of a larger plan to engage the youths 'radicalised' by the violence on streets, by sending them out of the valley to other states for studies.

Two more schemes - Himayat and Udaan - were introduced in the same year to help in tackling rising unemployment.

As the Valley was simmering with rage, the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development was tasked to annually fund 500 students from J&K for medical and engineering courses and another 4500 for general courses.

While the HRD ministry has categorically stated that there was nothing like a "consulting agency" for the scheme, many people in the Valley started promoting themselves as 'consultants' and even successfully managed admissions for many disadvantaged students.

However, the scheme ran into rough weather in the fall of 2013 when a group of students and their parents staged protest demonstration and attacked the Srinagar office of Peace Foundation, an NGO which claimed to be one of the "implementing agency" for the scheme.

Interestingly, the Chairman of the foundation, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, a former salesman, contested the recent parliamentary elections on a BJP ticket.

The scheme hit another low in May last year when a group of students admitted at various colleges in Meerut were expelled over cheering for Pakistan during an Indo-Pak match. It had turned out that the students were sponsored by HRD ministry under the provisions of the scheme.

A senior official in the crime branch said all the people named in the complaints will be called up for questioning in coming days. "We will dig out the entire truth of the matter and culprits will be brought to book," the official said.

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