Labourers as students in scholarships scam

3 months ago 36
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DEHRADUN: A two-year high court-monitored investigation has revealed how hundreds of private and government-aided colleges went to great lengths — forging Aadhaar cards and passing off minors, labourers and rickshaw pullers as students — to siphon off crores meant as scholarship funds for students from the SC/ST community.
Those implicated in the scam include high-profile names, including son of an Uttarakhand BJP MLA and former speaker of the assembly who owns one of the colleges allegedly involved.
Between 2011-12 and 2016-17 — before the scam was uncovered — the social welfare department released over Rs 7,200 crore as scholarship money for SC/ST students of the state. Under the scholarship, a student was reimbursed 50% to 90% of the tuition fee which was deposited in their bank accounts in instalments.
Two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) were set up in 2018. One is investigating colleges in Dehradun and Haridwar and another is examining records from institutes in 11 remaining districts.
A chunk of the money has also gone to colleges outside the state — those in UP, Delhi, Rajasthan and J&K. The probe has found that at least 150 colleges in these states had used

fake documents

to show students of Uttarakhand as enrolled in their campuses and drawn money from the government scheme.
“In one case, we found that a dozen students from Uttarakhand, who were enrolled in a college in Rajasthan’s Mewar and availing scholarship money, were all dummy candidates. In other cases, documents of minors were used to avail scholarships,” said an SIT officer.
Children of Gazetted Officers

and class one grade employees with the government were among those getting scholarship funds.
In Haridwar, six ‘students’ of a private engineering college were found working as daily wagers in a factory. None of them had finished school. “The labourers were told by the factory owner to submit their documents for police verification and said they had no clue that the documents were used to show them as students,” said another SIT member. Social activist

Ravindra Jugran

, who had filed a PIL in the matter in Uttarakhand HC which resulted in the formation of the SIT, said many more revelations would be made. “It’s been two years yet we don’t know for sure the extent of the scholarship scam,” Jugran said.
An FIR has been filed against 53 of them. A total of 101 people, including middlemen and college owners have been booked. The other SIT has found 57 colleges in Dehradun guilty of siphoning off Rs 23 crore scholarship money.
Under the scheme, a student was reimbursed 50% to 90% of the tuition fee which was deposited in their bank accounts in instalments

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