Sanction to prosecute Hurriyat leader, 8 others sought in MBBS seat 'sale'

Sanction to prosecute Hurriyat leader, 8 others sought in MBBS seat 'sale'
Representational ImageFile/ GK

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Police has moved the home department for granting sanction for prosecution against nine people, including a leader of a Hurriyat constituent and an advocate from south Kashmir, in a case related to "selling" of MBBS seats in Pakistan to Kashmiri students and using the money to support and fund terrorism, officials said on Sunday.

The case was registered by the Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK), a branch of the police's CID, in July last year after receiving information through reliable sources that several unscrupulous persons, including some Hurriyat leaders, were hand in glove with some educational consultancies and were "selling" Pakistan-based MBBS seats and seats in other professional courses in many colleges and universities.

At least four people were arrested by the CIK in August and it also named two of their accomplices who are “at present in Pakistan and its occupied Kashmir areas”.

The CIK, after a thorough investigation, moved the Jammu and Kashmir home department and sought sanction for prosecution against the nine people under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), mandated according to the act.

According to the officials, more evidence has surfaced during the probe in which it was also found that the money gathered from admissions had been passed on to some terror groups as well as secessionist groups for promoting enmity and waging war against the country.

Significantly, the case could come in handy in carrying out with the provisions of banning hardline Hurriyat Conference as the chief of one of its constituents -- Muhammad Akbar Bhat alias Zaffar Bhat of the Salvation Front -- is among the nine against whom the sanction has been sought under the stringent UAPA.

Some of the witnesses examined have indicated that many families approached Hurriyat leaders to avail the "programme", a brainchild of Pakistan's external snooping agency ISI, aimed at incentivising terrorism by compensating the family of killed terrorists by way of providing free of cost MBBS and engineering seats, the officials said.

However, there have been instances where such families were disappointed as monetary consideration was given precedence over the intended objective of the "programme" run by the ISI, they said.

The officials said that cost of seats ranged between Rs 10 to Rs 12 lakhs and in "some cases, the price was brought down on 'sifarish' (recommendation) of senior Hurriyat leaders, and depending upon the political heft of these secessionist leader, who intervened, concessions were extended to the aspiring student and his family".

CIK sleuths cracked the whip in August and arrested Bhat and three others for "selling" MBBS seats in Pakistan to Kashmiri students and using the money to support and fund terrorism.

During the probe, it surfaced that MBBS and other professional degree related seats in many cases were preferentially given to those students who were close to family members or relatives of killed terrorists.

There were also cases where the quota allotted to individual Hurriyat leaders were sold to anxious parents who wished their children to have MBBS and other professional degrees in one way or the other.

More than 80 cases were studied in which either the students or their parents were examined for academic years between 2014-18.

Searches were undertaken in about a dozen premises in the Kashmir Valley.

The officials said that Bhat's brother Altaf Ahmad Bhat and another arrested person's brother Manzoor Ahmad Shah, were coordinating from across the border and facilitating the admissions.

The two, who have been named accused in the case, had exfiltrated to Pakistan during the early 1990s for arms and ammunition training and have settled down on the other side.

They played a key role on behalf of the ISI in facilitating matters pertaining to admissions under this category for this set of Hurriyat-linked persons in India as part of a nefarious design of pumping money into militancy and other terrorist related activities.

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