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Bengal man arrested for Kashmir scholarship scam first reported by KM in 2019

Srinagar: The Crime Branch Kashmir Wednesday said it has arrested a man from West Bengal for allegedly uploading fake application forms on National Scholarship Portal for Merit Cum Means Scholarship under Minority Quota for J&K students during the year 2018-19 for district Kulgam.

The story was first reported by The Kashmir Monitor in May 2019 when several names of Hindu candidates figured in the list of candidates selected for the Scholarship from Kulgam.

 
– Story snippet from The Kashmir Monitor May 15, 2019 issue –

“A team of Crime Branch Kashmir headed by Deputy Superintendent of Police proceeded to West Bengal and arrested one accused person namely Selim Sekh, son of Giyasuddin Miya of village Tinsatabighi Berabad, Malda, West Bengal in connection with the case under FIR number 04/2020 under section 420, 468, 120-B-RPC, 66 (D) IT Act, 5(2) PC Act of Crime Branch Kashmir,” CBK said in an official statement on Wednesday.

It added that the accused in criminal conspiracy with the other accused persons uploaded fake application forms on National Scholarship Portal for Merit Cum Means Scholarship under Minority Quota for J&K students during the year 2018-19 for district Kulgam.

“Subsequently, fake verifications were conducted from the institutes which did not exist in the states mentioned in the application forms. The accused in-connivance with other accused persons have shown the fake beneficiaries to be the residents of district Kulgam and got deceitfully verified by the district social welfare officer Kulgam and managed to transfer the amount of Rs 1.34 crores from the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India into the Bank accounts of 463 fake beneficiaries of District Malda, West Bengal maintained in various branches of State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, United Bank of India (Now PNB), Allahabad Bank, IDFC Bank and Bangiya Vikas Gramin Bank situated in different districts of West Bengal,” the statement said.

It added that the arrested accused is being questioned for further investigation.

In 2019, The Kashmir Monitor first reported the scam based on the official data showing Hindu candidates as Muslim in Kulgam district to avail benefits under the scheme.

The data on the National Scholarship Portal then showed the names of 474 candidates who had availed a cumulative Rs 1.5 crore under this scheme for 2019-20 in Kulgam district.

Pankaj Karmakar (clearly a Hindu name), a candidate figuring at serial number 5, was shown as a ‘Muslim’ with Babar Sekh listed as his father’s name. Pankaj as per the data had availed the scholarship of Rs 25,000.

One Ashok Mandal (another Hindu name) listed as ‘Muslim’ at serial 12 with name Sajahan SK showing in the father’s column. Ashok too had availed Rs 30,000.

Similarly, a female candidate Mandira Ghosh was also listed as ‘Muslim’ at serial 377 with Sayeba Aktari as her father.

Shartat Ghose (apparently a Bengali Hindu name) was listed as ‘Muslim’ with Imran Ali as his father. He was provided Rs 30,000 to study at Indra Ganesan College of Bachelor of Engineering in Tamil Nadu.

SabitaGhosh another ‘Muslim’ beneficiary had Jamal Sk listed as his father. He was provided Rs 25,000 to study computer sciences at Vasavi Institute of Management and Computer Sciences, Andhra Pradesh.

Another candidate at serial 381 was mentioned as Barkat Sekh son of Badal Mandal. He was provided an amount of Rs 30,000 to pursue Masters in Computer Sciences at VignanaBharathi Institute of Technology, Proddatur, Andhra Pradesh.

The data was available on the website https://scholarships.gov.in

The objective of the Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship, as per Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, is to provide financial assistance to the poor and meritorious students belonging to minority communities (Muslim, Christian, Budhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain) to enable them to pursue professional and technical courses.