Kashmiri students miffed over PM's scholarship

Last Updated 20 March 2014, 19:09 IST

When leaving for Delhi to pursue an engineering course under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme in 2012, 20-year old Faraz Bashir of Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir had no idea that he was heading for trouble.

Over a year and a half have gone since he took admission at the Savera Group of Institutions in Gurgaon, but he is yet to get his scholarship.

The institute, which did not allow Bashir to take two of his semester examinations due to non-payment of fees, are now asking him to go home or clear the dues from his pocket to continue his studies at the campus. 

“I am completely clueless about what to do. It is beyond my capacity to pay such a hefty amount. I belong to a very poor family. It’s the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme that gave me courage to come here and get enrolled to a BTech programme,” he told Deccan Herald.

Bashir is not alone. Of a total 5,000 Kashmiri students admitted to various colleges across the country under the Central scheme in 2012, at least 500 are facing similar situation.

“There are 36 such students in BTech here in my college alone. We have learnt that many students from the Valley, who were admitted to other colleges in other parts of the country, have already went back as their institutions did not allow them to continue due to non-payment of fee,” Bashir said.

Mehraz Uddin, who has managed to pay his tuition fee of Rs 25,000 for the first year from his pocket to pursue a 4-year course in pharmacy at Swift Group of Colleges in Punjab, does not know what will happen when the time comes for the payment of dues in his second year. 

“The government has played a cruel joke with us. A total of 22 students from valley were admitted to my institute.

“None of them have received their scholarship. We were running pillar to post for help but no body is responding to us,” he rued. When contacted, SS Mantha, chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education’s (AICTE) which is implementing the scheme, put the blame on “some NGO” based in the Valley.

“An Inter-Ministerial Committee decided to grant five scholarships per college so that students do not bunch up at one institution. It was because of some NGO, the admissions in the colleges crossed the limit of five students,” he said.

Students, however, blamed the government and the AICTE for such confusion.

“It was only after we took admission, we came to know that only five scholarships were allotted for each institution. There was no such clarity when we came here to take up the courses.  

The authorities in our colleges were also not aware of such guidelines,” Bashir said. The students also blamed their respective colleges for their woes. 

“Institutes admitted them under management quota while they should have been enrolled under general quota,” charged Malik Imtiyaz, chairman of Peoplesforum, an NGO which helped government motivate Kashmiri students to take benefit of scheme which had initially drawn a very poor response when launched in 2010 to provide free higher education to them.

Mantha said there was a plan now to transfer second year students from one college to another to resolve the issue. 

(Published 20 March 2014, 19:09 IST)

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