Scholarship Scam Not Just Limited To Jharkhand, Crosses Borders, Ropes In Bihar

The scholarship scam that has recently come to light is not limited to Jharkhand but has spread to other states including Bihar. An investigation has found several cases of the pre-Matric scholarship, meant for poor minority students, being illegally diverted by middlemen in Bihar.

Bihar   |   6 Nov 2020 5:01 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-11-06T11:10:45+05:30
Writer : Devyani Madaik | Editor : Prateek Gautam | Creatives : Abhishek M
Scholarship Scam Not Just Limited To Jharkhand, Crosses Borders, Ropes In Bihar

Credits: Pixabay 

The pre-matric scholarship scam, first reported from Jharkhand, in which money meant for a scholarship for poor students from minority communities is siphoned off by some bank staff, school, government employees and middlemen, has roped schools from Bihar and Punjab as well.

According to the recent development, 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 the scholarship was illegally being diverted by middlemen in Bihar, reported The Indian Express.

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.

"There are 150 students in the school but only seven from minority communities. I have never verified any scholarship application. Someone had called last year, asking me to fill the forms for a student scholarship. I did not agree. We have been cheated," Kumar was quoted as saying.

In another village in Barachatti Block of the area, the media tracked down two of the beneficiaries listed in records as class 7 students, receiving ₹5,700 each for 2019-20. One of them is Mohammad Arshad Ansari, 20, a trainee barber at a local salon. The other is his neighbour Shaiyma Parveen, 16, who is a class 10 student in a local government school.

Ansari informed that he never studied at Manu Indian Public School, and was unaware of the recipient of the scholarship. Instead, he cleared his class 10 from another government school two years ago. Ansari said that a local person had given him the money after he filled a form. The person also asked Ansari's neighbours to fill the forms, but those people have not received any money.

Parveen, on the other hand, studied at Indira Kanya Uchcha Vidyalaya, another government school nearby. She has received ₹5,700 after a teacher visited her school and took down her name.

The third beneficiary's father informed that the middleman took half of the amount they had received. To a shocker, the record did not list the school he had cleared his class 10 from.

In Saharsa district of Bihar, scholarship records showed a beneficiary from St Matthews School in Purhiran. Interestingly, Purhiran is a locality in Punjab's Hoshiarpur. The story doesn't end here as the beneficiary, Atul Singha, was identified as a Muslim.

Owner of the school, William Tell, told the media that the school had no branch outside Punjab, and there was no student with the said name. "We did not fill any scholarship form for 2019 or 2020. This is clearly a big scam," Tell added.

The scholarships are sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs through the National Scholarship Portal (NSP). The scheme helps students from minority communities: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists, families with less than ₹1 lakh as their annual incomes. In addition, a student should score at least 50 per cent in his/her class exams to avail the scheme. Students in class 1 to 5 receive ₹1,000 per year and students of class 6 to 10 receive ₹5,700 if a day scholar or ₹10,700 if a hosteller.

Earlier, the Indian Express 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 money provided for the hostellers.

Also Read: Maharashtra's Sakal Media Group Slaps Rs 65 Cr Defamation Notice On Newslaundry

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