Jharkhand Scholarship Scam: ADM calls for phone records for investigation

Students from economically backward families have been duped of a scholarship scheme, allegedly by a strong nexus of government, bank and school officials

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Mr. Chandan Kumar, the Additional District Magistrate (Law and Order) Dhanbad, Jharkhand has called for the call detail records (CDR), subscriber and last location details of key suspects in the Jharkhand pre-matric scholarship scam.

Advocate Shadab informed SabrangIndia that this scam is spread in almost all parts of India but has been reported first in Jharkhand. An inkling of this fraud first emerged when students of different schools in Jharkhand were being asked to furnish various documents like bank account details, Aadhar, etc. From top level officials in the Government to low ranked officers in Banks and State departments are involved, he remarked.

In a letter dated November 8, 2020 accessed by SabrangIndia, addressed to the Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad, the ADM has listed forty-four mobile numbers that need to be thoroughly investigated for further probe into alleged siphoning off of money meant for minority community students.

One Nilofar Parveen, a suspected agent has mentioned the involvement of the Jharkhand State Minority Commission Chairman Kamaal Khan, Chatra based gang headed by Sadiq, alias Shahid, his brother Tariq, a politician, operators Faizal and Amjad, Sabina, Nazneen, Tausif, Taabish, Irfan Khan and Sohail to the Police.

In addition to the alleged accused, she has also named Pandarpala (Dhanbad) based Raajish Khan and Vijay. According to Indian Express reports, Nilofar Parveen was was given Rs 200 to create a user-ID and password for a school, and that school owners were paid Rs 1,000 per (fake) beneficiary who registered for scholarships.

She has further stated to the investigators that Sabina, Nazneen, Tausif and Taabish used to receive scholarship applications from schools in Dhanbad and Faisal was allegedly involved in paying (by cheque) the Headmaster of schools for bringing in such applications.

Nilofar revealed further that Kamaal Khan used to visit Saadiq and Taariq frequently and they were all aware of the said scam. As a part of this scam, a large number of scholarships for fake beneficiaries were being approved through the National Scholarship Portal (NSP), which resulted in the release of huge sums of scholarship money to the wrong people, as per Indian Express reports.

Nilofar further revealed that she was given access to the NSP of a few schools, on which she was directed to generate ‘User Credentials’.

What is the Jharkhand Scholarship Scam?

In several Districts of Jharkhand, a centrally funded scholarship scheme meant for students belonging to minority communities is being allegedly misused by a nexus of middlemen, school owners and government officials. This pre-matric scholarship scheme launched in 2008 is provided to minority community students belonging to families earning below one lakh per year.  

In 2019-20, the Ministry of Minority Affairs disbursed Rs. 61 crores under this scheme, from Rs 1,400 crore nationally, to the State of Jharkhand. The Indian Express informed that the scam was carried out at various levels, right from the verification process of eligible students (scoring 50% and above in exams). The beneficiaries needed to register themselves at the National Scholarship Portal by submitting their Aadhaar number, bank account details and other documents.

The ADM Dhanbad told Times of India, “The gang siphoned off the funds in three ways. In the first method they enrolled fake students by obtaining the User ID’s and passwords by taking school principals or school nodal officers for the scholarship into confidence and got the money transferred into their accounts. In the second method, they got fake user ID’s and passwords on the basis of forged documents into the NSP, without the knowledge of the schools and in connivance of the welfare department officials, and siphoned off the money. In the third method, they got scholarship funds, transferred from the welfare department of Dhanbad in the name of schools located outside Dhanbad.”

Developments in the case so far

Earlier this month, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren ordered an inquiry into the scam and promised to rectify the verification system so that the diversion of funds does not happen again. A week later, on November 8 the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs directed a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the matter.

Apart from government officials, gangs and school owners, the police are also looking into the alleged involvement of bank officers and officials from the welfare department. As per the scheme, students living in school hostels are given Rs.10,000 whereas day scholars are given a scholarship of Rs.7,500.

ADM Kumar has alleged that the majority of the scholarships were withdrawn in the name of students residing in hostels and even for those schools that do not have residential facilities. Most of the bank accounts where the scholarship money has been deposited is not even linked to Aadhar which raised further red flags, he commented.

The District administration of Dhanbad has registered FIR’s against 105 accused based on the findings of the Indian Express and a 59-page report has also been prepared which refers to The Indian Express findings and quotes several suspects including a state level Management Information System (MIS) operator, district welfare staff, and a few politicians.


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