At least five of the institutes where Kashmiri students were targeted after the Pulwama attack are covered under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) — a merit-based programme that offers admission to students of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in colleges, institutes and universities across the country and pays for their tuition and board.
And at least five of the Kashmiri students who have been expelled or suspended so far, for what complainants content on social media, had secured admission through PMSSS.
Watch: Kashmiris attacked in several parts of India
An analysis of official records by The Indian Express shows that Geeta Engineering College in Panipat and Moradabad Institute of Technology (MIT), which recently witnessed protests against their students from Kashmir, as well as Quantum University in Roorkee, Bharat Institute of Technology in Meerut, and Shree Guru Gobind Singh Tricentenary University in Gurgaon, which suspended/expelled Kashmiri students for their comments/ posts on social media, are on the government’s list of institutions covered under PMSSS.
In fact, a student suspended from Moradabad Institute of Technology (MIT) and another from Bharat Institute of Technology had taken admission through PMSSS, the administration of the respective institutes confirmed to The Indian Express. MIT has decided not to host PMSSS scholars from the new academic session starting July.
Roorkee-based Quantum University expelled seven Kashmiri students for allegedly posting anti-national content on Instagram — three of them had been admitted through the scholarship scheme.
At Geeta Engineering College in Panipat, Kashmiri students suffered a harrowing 24 hours, from the night of February 17 to the next evening, after some men from a neighbouring village allegedly raised slogans during a candlelight march, demanding that their names be struck off the rolls. Although the police resolved the problem, many students, at the behest of the college administration, left for home fearing violence.
The college has been taking in students from J&K for the last four years through PMSSS. Shree Guru Gobind Singh Tricentenary University in Gurgaon, which admits J&K students to its nursing programme under PMSSS, rusticated a woman on Tuesday after some other students claimed her post on social media was objectionable. Protests began Tuesday morning, and only ended after the university decided to rusticate her.
Launched in 2011-12 by the UPA-II government, the scholarship programme is essentially meant to offer youngsters from J&K a share of opportunities across the country and, consequently, remove the “sense of alienation”.
Under the scheme, 5,000 scholarships are offered each year to students of J&K to pursue undergraduate studies in areas such as engineering, medical, nursing, pharmacy, hotel management, agriculture, architecture and commerce in a list of select institutes/ colleges/ universities that are recognised by the AICTE or approved by the UGC or respective regulatory bodies.
The scholarship covers expenditure towards tuition fee and maintenance charges for hostel, mess, books and other incidentals. The largest number of applications is usually received from Kashmir, followed by Jammu and Ladakh.
Over the last four years, a total of 9,604 students from J&K have got admission in institutes across the country through PMSSS. Of these, 8,780 are still studying in these institutes. The remaining either did not report to their institute after admission or eventually dropped out of the programme. The number of admissions has steadily increased since 2015-16.
The largest number of PMSSS scholars, since 2015-16, has been reported from Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and New Delhi. Among the cities, Bengaluru and Pune have reported the highest number of J&K students.