The Scholarship story


Concurring with the view of MHRD that these forums have not been authorised for implementation of the Scheme, Shuja says that it was after the poor response the Scheme received in the first year that he decided to step in.

“In 2011, only 37 students were enrolled for the Scheme. The MHRD was mulling to wind it up,” Shuja said, “We stepped in to create awareness among the common masses.”

On the contrary, JKPF Chairman, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat maintains that he was approached by the MHRD for the proper implementation of the scheme. It took the reporter a dozen phone calls and a week-long wait to secure a meeting with Bhat.

“Given the quantum of work I have done to bring back peace to the valley in last 15 years, the MHRD has entrusted me with the job,” said Bhat whose reputation among the general public is casting a shadow on the overall functioning of the scheme.

The presence of Governor N N Vohra in nearly all of the events the JKPF organises leaves little doubt about his access to power corridors.

The Man

Hailing from Qazigund area of south Kashmir’s Islamabad district, Bhat comes from a very humble background. But his meteoric rise within the political and social circles of Kashmir has been astonishing, to say the least. According to sources, Bhat has been a part of the militant outfit, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, in early nineties but he later switched loyalties and joined the infamous renegade brigade, the Ikhwan; an allegation that Bhat vehemently denies.

After a brief business career, Bhat joined the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1998 and after a short stint of four years left the party and joined the State Congress’s unit. His stint at Congress however was even shorter and he soon joined the Samajwadi Party (SP). The official records says that Bhat is presently working as the State General Secretary of SP.

Special-Report1“I was tortured by militants for money but I have never been a part of either the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen or the Ikhwan,” Bhat says, “These are baseless rumours.”

“When I was a businessman, people were jealous of my flourishing business and now my proximity to the people who matter is making them nervous,” said Bhat.

He says that he has been a victim of the militants as well as the renegades both of whom harassed him to extract money. Bhat was also booked for assaulting a journalist in one of his Peace Conferences in Islamabad district in October 2011. The state police reluctantly registered an FIR against Bhat in journalist assault case. However, curiously, no further action was taken against him.

Meanwhile, the students who have availed the scheme through Bhat say that they were charged Rs 25000 before submission of forms. “We have been told that we will get the money back but the way things are going, even our admissions are not secure,” said a student, while talking to Kashmir Life over phone from an engineering college in Haryana. The worried parents say that they fear for the safety of their children more than their admissions, “We want our kids to be safe in an alien place,” said one of the parents.



Broken Promises

A much-touted scheme announced by New Delhi to provide employment for ‘disgruntled’ youth of Jammu and Kashmir state has turned out to be a dud, Rifat Mohidin reports.

In December 2012, a notification appeared in a leading local daily for the students of Jammu and Kashmir to apply for short term professional training courses announced by the Prime Minister of India in 2010, especially for J&K students. The training was scheduled to complete at the end of March 2013, but unfortunately till now most of the students feel “cheated” because they didn’t get any response from the authorities yet. March has already passed, but the training is yet to start.

Saniya Manzoor, 22, is one of the aspirants who had applied for a short term course in Finance after completing her Bachelors in Commerce. She thought this course would add to the prospects of her employment. Now she feels very disappointed as five months have passed without any information from the authorities where she had applied.

“I was very happy on seeing this opportunity as it was free of cost. They also said that after completing the course we might also get a job. But even after five months the course has not yet started,” Saniya Manzoor rues.

The scheme was announced by Prime Minister of India to train 16000 youth of J&K state under various Modular Employable Skills for gainful employment out of which 9500 candidates were trained during 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. The remaining 6500 candidates were to be trained up to March 31, 2013 outside the state.

“The selected candidates will undergo training in the VIPs registered under the Skill Development Initiative Scheme, duly recommended by DGET in the trades/sectors identified by the Government of J&K which will have tangible employment potential in the state,” a notification issued by the state government reads.

The students across Kashmir valley were told to submit the forms along with all formalities at their nearest Industrial Training Institute (ITI). They were assured of being called before March to join the training along with other students. “We fulfilled all the formalities and submitted the form at ITI Babdem, as it was winter and schools were also closed. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a lie,” said Aqib Farooq, a student of Class 12 who had applied for a short term course in Animation

The students were to be trained outside the state for the winter months from December to March, but from Srinagar, only 45 students have been yet sent in the month of April.

A senior official at Babdem Bagidilawar ITI said that they received hundreds of applications for the course but admitted they were only the facilitators and the ultimate decision-making body was the Board of Technical Education. “Yes we received hundreds of applications for skill development programs sponsored by the central government. We only receive forms and prepare the list. Rest is up to technical education department,” said Principal Babdem Bagidilawar ITI, Farooq Ahmed Khan.

“We send the list only. Rest is up to them to tell us when there is a vacancy. In this particular program, we have sent 45 students till now for electrical and automobile training in April,” he added

A student who had applied for a course in English speaking says the government is trying to jeopardize their career. “They always announce special schemes for JK students. But it’s all a lie. They are just trying to show that they have sympathy for Kashmir students but that’s not the actual story. They are jeopardizing our career,” said Saba Sheen. Director Technical Education could not be reached for the comment.


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