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The Gaya police have registered the first FIR on Monday against the pre-matric scholarship scam, where money meant for poor students of the minority communities were being siphoned off by an alleged nexus of bank staff, school employees, government employees and middlemen.
The FIR was lodged at the Civil Lines Police Station under sections 468 (forgery for cheating), 471 (dishonestly using a forged document) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. The accused identified as Babar Ali has allegedly submitted fake verification documents to the district welfare officer and portrayed himself as a nodal officer of Manu Indian Public School to divert the scholarship, reported The Indian Express.
The development comes days after the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, under which the scholarship is administered, sought to investigate the case that also involves schools from Punjab and Assam.
Besides, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Assam arrested 21 people involved in the fraud and forgery, including four headmasters and a teacher. The agency carried out the investigation based on a complaint lodged by the state's nodal officer in August.
On November 5, it was found that the scam was not limited to Jharkhand and school employees from Bihar were also involved. After looking at Bihar's district-wise entries on the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) and matching them with beneficiary bank accounts in the Public Finance Management System (PFMS), there were several cases where middlemen in the state were illegally diverting the scholarship.
Records showed that Manu Indian Public School in Bihar's Goitha had around 134 beneficiaries, including 128 hostellers, who were eligible for the highest scholarship slab of ₹10,700 per year.
The school is just a two-storey structure in a deserted field and was found locked. After looking at the list of beneficiaries, school owner Rajiv Kumar told the names on the list were 'fake', and the school had no hostel facilities.
The media tracked down a few more beneficiaries from another village of the state, who were registered as Class 7 and Class 10th students. The media found out that one of them was a trainee barber at a nearby shop and the other was a student of a different school.
Earlier, media had revealed multiple instances of fraud and corruption across Jharkhand - from beneficiaries in school who never applied to students whose religion was changed in the records, in the name of distribution of the scholarships.
The people involved in the scam obtained Aadhaar Card details of the students, hijacked their bank accounts and siphoned off the money. In many cases, they faked the availability of hostels for some schools to dupe the funds provided for the hostellers.
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