Auto driver’s topper daughter ‘treated like a criminal’

  • Jeevan Prakash Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2015 17:44 IST

Avantika Dutta, who scored 92% marks in Class 12, was allotted Delhi University’s (DU) Kamala Nehru College at the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) counselling session in Jammu in September 2014. Dutta’s father is an auto driver who, despite financial difficulties, made every effort to help his daughter continue her education and score good marks. It was a moment of great pride for the family when Dutta was advised to join a DU college to do BCom (pass), for which she was given a provisional admission letter during the counselling. Trouble, however, followed soon after.

“When we went to Kamala Nehru College we were told that the authorities had no knowledge of the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS). Then we went to AICTE, where we were asked to go to the University Grants Commission (UGC). UGC officials then told us they had issued a letter to DU to instruct its colleges to admit PMSSS students. At the DU VCs office we were asked to write in details to the university about the matter,” said Dutta’s mother.

The VCs office promised necessary action, but when Dutta went back after not hearing from them, she was asked to go back to Kamala Nehru College… to again be told that the college had no information on PMSSS. Finally, after making more rounds of the university and the college, Dutta was told by a senior DU official to go back home as nothing would happen.

“My daughter kept crying on the journey back from Delhi to Jammu and since then has been depressed. She does not believe that a bright student like her, someone who has won a prime minister’s scholarship, can be treated so shabbily. Except for the AICTE office, we were treated like criminals everywhere. Officials behaved rudely and didn’t cooperate with us. We went to MHRD and submitted a letter giving details of our predicament but nothing happened,” says Dutta’s mother.

About 25 scholarship winners HT Education spoke to had a similar story to tell – of running around from one office to another and going back home to their state utterly disappointed.

Officials at many DU colleges said that due to lack of any formal communication from DU they were unaware of any such scheme and so had to refuse admission to the scholarship winners. Some colleges like School of Home Economics, Rajdhani College, Acharya Narendra Dev College etc said that no student had come to them for admission on the basis of PMSSS. Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research claimed that students, who were allotted provisional admission letter under PMSSS, had not returned after they were asked to furnish original certificates. “A student had come to our college but withdrew the application due to non-availability of hostel facility,” an official at the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce claimed.

St. Stephen’s College had as a matter of fact replied to UGC’s request to admit the students. “St. Stephen’s is a minority educational institutes within the ambit of clause (1) of article 30 of the Constitution of India and the same was affirmed unequivocally by Apex Court in St. Stephen’s College vs University of Delhi (1992),” Dr Valson Thampu, principal, St. Stephen’s College had explained to UGC while denying admission to Khan Junaid Ul Islam from Srinagar.

Attempts to get in touch with Jaspal Singh Sandhu, secretary UGC and Malashri Lal, Dean of Colleges, Delhi University turned futile as they never respond to calls and messages.

When Malay Neerav, DU’s media coordinator, was contacted and briefed about the issue, he promised to get back after looking into the matter but he became inaccessible after that.

Despite my selection under the PMSSS, I had to beg officials at the college, DU and UGC to help me get my admission done. It was a humiliating experience --- Avantika Dutta, student, Jammu

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