Taking note of alleged embezzlement of post-matric scholarships meant for Scheduled Caste (SC) students, the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission will summon authorities of VMS College, Batala, owned by local Congress MLA Ashwani Sekhri. The college is under scanner for misappropriation scholarship funds for SC students who took admission in the 2010-2011 academic session.
Talking to HT, Punjab SC Commission chairman Rajesh Bagha said: “Taking a suo motu cognisance of media reports, the commission will summon the college authorities and action will be taken if the scholarship funds have been misused.”
Meanwhile, Sekhri held a press conference on Saturday and produced six SC students of the 2010-2011 batch, who said they got the scholarship and other benefits from the college administration.
SC students Inderjit Singh, Gagandeep Singh and Lovepreet Singh of the medical laboratory technology course and Lakhwinder Singh, Suman Bala and Rajni Bala of the information technology department, said they had done their diplomas from the college under SC category and had never been asked to pay fee or other expenses. The college authorities also helped them to open bank accounts through which they got scholarship, they claimed.
Terming the misappropriation allegations politically motivated, Sekhri said the college was abiding by the government rules. “Over 25,000 students have completed their courses from the college in the past 15 years. We would not have been able to run the college if we had violated rules,” he said.
Contrary to this, some SC students accused the college administration of depriving them of scholarship. In an affidavit, a copy of which is with HT, a student from Amritsar said he got admission to the VMS College for diploma in electrical in 2011 under SC category for which he was charged `15,000. He alleged that the college charged `2,000 as transportation fee for three months and `850 examination fee per semester.
“The college authorities asked us to open an account in Allahabad Bank and took our signatures on a blank document and cheque books after which they withdrew the scholarship funds from our accounts,” alleged the student.
“I even approached the college chairman Ashwani Sekhri for scholarship amount, but to no avail,” he alleged in the affidavit.
Another Amritsar student said she took admission for the general nursing and midwifery course in 2011 and was charged the entire fee for the four-year course. “I and my friend not even got a single penny from the scholarship account,” she alleged.
Retired government principal DK Verma, who worked in the VMS College as an English lecturer during the same period blamed the college administration for misappropriating SC scholarship funds. “When I was a principal in a government school, the college authorities used to contact me for information regarding SC students. But when I joined the college, I came to know how the authorities used to deprive eligible students of government funds,” he said.
“The college authorities threatened me with dire consequences when I lodged a complaint with ministry of social justice and empowerment in 2012,” he added.