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Scholarship scam: Tribal boy is shown as Parsi, woman told money from Saudi

The Indian Express tracked 15 schools across six districts in Jharkhand and spoke to over 30 students, parents and school authorities to investigate the list of beneficiaries for pre-matric scholarships in 2019-20.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Dhanbad, Latehar, Lohardaga, Ramgarh, Ranchi, Sahibganj | Updated: November 2, 2020 10:25:55 am
Dhanbad cracks down: FIRs filed against 105, report says should probe phone recordsThe report states that an in-depth inquiry is needed to probe the role of several private and government schools, and officers in the District Education Office. (File photo)

OVER THE last month, The Indian Express tracked 15 schools across six districts in Jharkhand and spoke to over 30 students, parents and school authorities to investigate the list of beneficiaries for pre-matric scholarships in 2019-20 sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs through the National Scholarship Portal (NSP).

What it found were several instances of outright fraud and fudging of records. Here is the first set:

Students duped, agents take cut

Assembly of God Church School, Hutup, Ranchi:

Zikrul Ansari, studying in Class 9, says he received Rs 2,700 in May, which is less than half of the Rs 5,700 he was entitled to per year. “When I asked for the full amount, the authorities said they too had worked hard and needed the money,” he said.

At his home made of unplastered walls and an asbestos roof, his father Alim Ansari, a lift operator at a private firm, said: “It is tough managing the family of eight with my monthly salary of Rs 8,000. We were not aware that Zikrul should have got Rs 5,700.” Records show 49 students received scholarships starting from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,700.

Read | Direct Benefit Transfer is direct siphoning of school scholarship

Pastor Anil Chakor, chairman, said: “I came to know recently that our school in-charge, Elisaba Gari, and a teacher of another school stole the school’s letterhead and stamp, and got the user ID and password from the NSP. They distributed money to students at different locations.”

Ali Public School, Tiliataand, Latehar:

Atiya Firdous was sanctioned Rs 10,700 for Class 6. “But I study in Class 3 and don’t stay in a hostel,” she said. Her family says she received Rs 5,350 from the school, which has about 150 students, although she is eligible only for Rs 1,000.

Records show the full range of scholarships were sanctioned for 157 students, including 72 girls. The school does not have any girl students staying in hostels, or a full-fledged hostel.

Maulana Rizwaan Danish, who runs the school, said: “Around 400 students filled the forms with the help of some agents…My job is to verify whether they studied in my school or not and I did not check anything else.” He showed a few rooms with mattresses, saying some boys had stayed here before the lockdown. “Girls don’t stay here…There is a lot of fraud happening,” he said.

Fake students, one is 47-yr-old wife of tailor

Lord Krishna Public School, Ghughri, Ranchi:

Records show Sadiya Parween is a student of Class 7. But producing a state certificate, Sadiya says she never studied in Lord Krishna School and cleared Class 10 from Devendra Nath School (DNS) in Choreyan. “My details were taken last year and this year we received Rs 10,700 in my account. Half the money was shared with an agent, Tauqir, who dealt with the application,” she said.

Records show Fija Praveen is a student of Class 7, and that she received Rs 5,700 in her bank account. “I study in Class 9 in DNS. Tauqir took us to the bank and I withdrew the money and gave him half. I never studied in Lord Krishna School,” she said. At least 324 students received scholarships, including 213 who got Rs 10,700 each, from the school which has just five rooms in the middle of a field.

Sanjay Gope, the owner, said: “About 200 students had applied but some may have been fake.” Asked about the hostel, he said it was nearby but did not provide details. “Some illegal work has happened, but I don’t know how,” he said.

Madrasa Alia Arabia, Ranchi:

Records list 102 students as beneficiaries of Rs 10,700 and that one person received Rs 2,300. One among them is 47-year-old Rajiya Khatun, the wife of a tailor and resident of Lohardaga district, 100 km away. Records list her as a beneficiary with a Punjab National Bank account. “We filled the form because I was told by an agent that I would get half the amount of Rs 10,700. I did not know that the money was meant for school children,” said Rajiya’s husband, Nasim Ansari.

Mohammad Sahabuddin, head teacher, said: “We have come to know that this list includes girls, although this is a residential institution for boys.”

Blue Bells School, Gola, Ramgarh:

Records show scholarships were given to 179 students, including 176 hostellers. But the school has no hostel. One beneficiary, Mahvish Parveen, shown as studying in Class 8, stays in Jhumri Telaiya in Koderma district, about 130 km away. “My daughter is a Class 4 student in a government school in Vishrambagh in Jhumri Telaiya. We filled the scholarship form through an agent but have not got any money,” said Parveen’s father Mohammad Javed.

Mahendra Verma, principal, said: “I have not verified any scholarship form for the last three years. Three years ago, we received the scholarship amount through cheque and the money was delivered to beneficiaries. We have around 100 students in our school of whom less than 50 are from minority communities.”

Unidentified, Ranchi:

Gulshan Ara, 47, of Behratoli in Mandar Block of Ranchi, lost her husband in February 2019. “We were going through a tough time when an acquaintance approached us, saying I would get some charity money from Saudi Arabia if I gave him my Aadhaar details and a copy of the bank passbook. In April, I received Rs 10,700. The middleman took half,” she said.

Ara’s account number in the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) for direct transfers lists her as a beneficiary but the school’s name could not be verified. Her name was not found in the NSP list for Ranchi district.

Daffodils Public School, Dumra, Dhanbad:

Records show that 224 students were sanctioned scholarships, including 222 hostellers. The two-storey school, with 1,000 students listed from class 1-8, has no hostel. One of the beneficiaries, Naima Khatoon, was found to be staying in Hazaribagh, about 125 km away.

Rajendra Kumar Napir, Director: “There is no hostel in my school. The school heads have to be informed about the disbursement but I have no idea.”

Colonel Public School, Dhanbad:

Records show 205 students received scholarships, including 198 hostellers. One “Class 8” beneficiary, Muneja Parween, is a 28-year-old housewife at Bagodar in Giridih district. “An agent had collected our details and I received Rs 10,700 in my account. The agent gave me only Rs 4,000,” she said.

Mukesh Rai, Director: “This is fraud and the school has nothing to do with it.” Rai said the school has been wound up following the lockdown.

Tribal becomes Parsi in records

Assembly of God Church School, Hutup, Ranchi:

Rahul Oraon, a Class 9 student, belongs to a tribal community but is listed as a “Parsi”. “I got Rs 2,700 in cash without any receipt,” he said.

Pastor Anil Chakor, chairman, said: “There is a big nexus. The students were not even given access to their bank accounts.”

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