A computer programmer, who used to work with the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) under the Ministry of Culture, has been accused of “tinkering with a scholarship software” and siphoning scholarship money disbursed by the CCRT to young children in various artistic fields, police said.
Police registered a case under IPC Section 420 after the CCRT Director approached them with a complaint. No arrest has been made so far, with CCRT claiming that Rs 48 lakh has been siphoned. It added that 16 people “complicit” in the scam have been identified. The CCRT, in its initial complaint, said they estimated the loss at Rs 37.25 lakh, but on further enquiry, the amount was updated to Rs 48 lakh.
Police said Sandip Kumar, who had been working at CCRT as a programmer on a contract basis for the past seven years, allegedly tampered with a soft copy of the scholarship list, including the names of scholarship holders, their bank account numbers and scholarship amount. He allegedly replaced the correct details with those of his family members and associates, police said.
Sandeep, however, denied the claims and told The Indian Express: ‘They are accusing me of hacking into their system. I do not have such skills and I am not stupid enough to transfer the money in my family’s name. I was fired from the department and am looking for a job.”
The allegations were made by the CCRT director, G C Joshi, who said he approached police in September last year after more than 30 children and parents approached the centre, claiming that their scholarship money never reached them.
“We had debited the amount from our side. Most of the children were from northeastern states of Tripura, Manipur and Assam.” Police said the reason for the delay in registering the FIR was because the complainant had earlier contacted the Cyber Cell, and they were marked on the complaint later.
The CCRT, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture, is a training institution working to integrate education with culture. The scholarship scheme, which runs on the national level, provides Rs 12,600 per month to children in various artistic fields between the age groups of 10-14.
As per the department, details of the recipients of the scholarship are disbursed and sent to the accounts department. Thereafter, the details are sent to a Canara Bank branch located inside office premises in Dwarka sector 7, in the form of a soft copy through the registered office email ID. The accused said he was shifted to the accounts section in 2015. “Three people were transferred in September and October. We had started noticing some discrepancies and I will tell the police about it,” he claimed.
The CCRT is now waiting for police to recover the scholarship amount. “We cannot disburse the scholarship which has been debited. We are waiting for the police to investigate the matter and recover the money, which will be handed over to the children,” Joshi said.