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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches at 22 locations across six districts in Uttar Pradesh on Friday in connection with fraudulent post-matriculation scholarship schemes.
The ED said the scholarship scam was run by several educational institutions and might have been carried out to the tune of approximately Rs 75 crore.
Many colleges have come under the radar, including those in Lucknow, Hardoi, Farrukhabad, among others.
The scholarships under the ED’s radar can only be availed by students who belong to SC, ST categories or other minority categories for post-matric courses. However, these institutes availed scholarships in the names of several ineligible candidates and illegally misappropriated the same for their use, said the probe agency.
Relevant sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were invoked against the accused, which also included family members of the persons managing these educational institutions.
Further, cash amounting to Rs 36.51 lakh and foreign currency of USD 956 was seized by ED personnel during the searches.
In an official statement, the ED said, “The central and state governments provide various scholarships to facilitate the education of SC, ST, and PH candidates. Further, some scholarships are meant for minority candidates and students of Economically Weaker Sections of society. Therefore, the scholarship scam has a huge social impact on the weaker sections of society.”
The ED alleged that various agents were involved in the scam, including several agents of FINO Payment Bank. As per the ED, FINO Payment Bank’s Mohd Sahil Aziz, Amit Kumar Maurya, Tanveer Ahmad and Jitendra Singh operated the scam.
“The offenders had opened all bank accounts in Lucknow and Mumbai branches of FINO,” the ED said.
ED REVEALS COLLEGES’ MODUS OPERANDI
The ED probe revealed that in order to procure scholarship funds, these colleges and institutes used bank accounts of minor students who are in the age group of 7-12 years and people in the age group of 45 years and above. The investigation so far revealed that these institutes opened around 3,000 such accounts using documents of various people.
Most of the accounts are in the name of villagers who are not even aware of these bank accounts and have never received any scholarships to date.
In some cases, the institutes and their employees managed to illegally receive and use the IDs and passwords originally issued to the FINO bank agents by the bank, the ED has alleged. The scholarship amount was withdrawn by these institutes in cash from the students’ accounts.
Further, SIM cards and stamps and seals of various entities were seized during the ED’s search operation. The probe revealed these institutions were prima facieinvolved in the forgery and fabrication of various documents.
UP COLLEGES UNDER ED SCANNER
The educational institutions which are under the ED’s scanner are the SS Institute of Management in Lucknow, Hygia College of Pharmacy in Lucknow, Hygia Institute of Pharmacy/Central Institute of Pharmacy in Lucknow, Lucknow Institute of Management and Education, Dr Om Prakash Gupta Institute of Management and Technology in Farrukhabad, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar Foundation and Jivika College of Pharmacy in Hardoi, RP Inter College in Hardoi, Gyanwati Inter College in Hardoi and the Uchatar Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Hardoi.
A detailed probe is underway, said the ED.