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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

CBI grills more than dozen in multi-crore scholarship scam

The government employees charged 10% commission from the private institutions for disbursing the scholarship scam at the private hotels in Shimla

chandigarh Updated: Oct 17, 2019 23:31 IST

Hindustan Times, Shimla
Hindustantimes
         

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has questioned more than one dozen people in connection with the multi-crore scholarship scam spread across eight states.

CBI sleuths questioned officials of two private institutes of the Solan district for disbursing the scholarship to ineligible students and depriving the scholarship to genuine students.

CBI spokesperson in Delhi RK Gaur said, “We have accelerated the probe in the scam. From time to time people connected to the scam are being questioned. Shortly more persons will be questioned.”

The CBI sleuths detected that the scholarship scam was being carried under a systematic racket by a set of employees from the government and private institutions.

The government employees charged 10% commission from the private institutions for disbursing the scholarship scam at the private hotels in Shimla.

Police had arrested a superintendent from the education department, who further spilled the beans giving more leads to the CBI sleuths.

Preliminary investigations earlier revealed that 250 students took admissions in two centres of Kangra district’s Fatehpur and Vadukar (Karnataka) centres of a private university.

At the time of admissions, scholarships were promised to students belonging to Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribe and other backward classes.

The universities had announced that the scholarship money will be transferred to their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.

The social justice ministry had launched the scholarship scheme in 2013-14. The Himachal Pradesh police, in November 2018, had registered a first information report (FIR) in Chotta Shimla police station in the fake scholarship scam. Later, the case was transferred to CBI.

In the ₹250-crore scholarship scam, the CBI had confiscated financial records of 22 education institutions across the hill state and in neighbouring Haryana.

The CBI sleuths scanned accounts of private education institutions and students who availed scholarship benefits and also detected the involvement of some bank officials in the scam.

The CBI teams are conducting searches on the premises of 22 educational institutions in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh.

An inquiry conducted by the education department earlier had revealed that more than 2, 38, 089 eligible students from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were deprived of scholarships under various centrally-sponsored schemes, while ineligible candidates were given admissions and fictitious bank accounts were opened for the payment of scholarships by various institutions.

The probe also revealed that ₹226 crore was disbursed through fake admissions and money was deposited in different bank accounts both within and outside the state.

A large number of accounts were tracked to Haryana, Chandigarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The probe detected that same bank account was used to deposit the money in 181 cases. As many as 5,262 beneficiaries had used the same Aadhar card to claim the benefits.

It also came to light that the education department officials released utilisation certificates to many students without verifying their accounts.

The scam remained hidden as people who created an online portal for disbursement of the scholarship scheme and those who actually transferred the amount were the same, the inquiry pointed out.