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No oversight for fraudulent educational consultancies in Kashmir.

Police are investigating many cases of fraud involving consultants in Kashmir for duping students aspiring to pursue professional courses from institutions abroad or outside Jammu and Kashmir, officials say.Out of the 17 cases about which complaints of fraud were received the Crime Branch of police has registered FIRs in eight while nine were at preliminary stage of verification.

The frauds are going on for years. Only three of the complaints were received this year, an official of the CB said.

The complaints have poured in from parents of students or students themselves.Numerous consultancies offer admission to students in an entire gamut of professional institutions outside the state and even abroad against hefty fees, but there is no government regulation for the business.

Over the last few years Kashmir has witnessed a a boom in career consultancies that most often set up offices in hotel rooms and lure students for admission in colleges and universities outside.Recently, Crime Branch of police in Kashmir registered a case against a Kolkata resident for cheating MBBS aspirants and a Srinagar-based consultancy.

The case was registered after the consultant duped around five students who had paid a hefty amount to get admission for MBBS course in colleges outside.

In October the CB booked owner of an educational consultancy, HIIT for cheating and fraud.

In 2015 police registered a cheating case against the proprietor of a ‘career counsellor’ for duping a student on the pretext of securing admission in a medical college outside the state.Before that the CB registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy against unnamed consultancies and individuals who defrauded some Kashmiri youth after promising them admissions in colleges across India under the controversial Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS).

The government has not evolved a mechanism to regulate these consultancies even as the CB has been receiving complaints of duping students consistently.About 200 educational and career consultancies are presently operating in Kashmir, most of them in Srinagar but none of them registered with the government.

Estimates annual turnover of the business in Kashmir is around Rs1200 crore, all paid up by students or their families against promises of admission in various colleges and Universities in India or abroad.

“Around 1000 students after class 12th move outside Kashmir annually to secure their admission in various professional courses particularly Bangladesh through consultancies,” said G N Var former president of coaching centres association Kashmir (CCAK) who is also proprietor S N Das Gupta- a private coaching centre here.

“But most of them land in colleges which are below standard.”He said around 500 students go abroad after completing their graduation from Kashmir.

“Almost 9000 students move outside the valley or state to pursue different PG courses in other states,” Var said.Every year around 25000 students are registered in various coaching centres of Srinagar city particularly in Parraypora area, coaching for preparations for various competitive exams.

“Most of the students are from other districts of the Valley and prefer to stay in Srinagar,” Var said.Besides Parraypora, many coaching centres and educational consultancies dot civil line areas of Srinagar are dotted with various private consultancies where students are motivated to seek admission in institutions outside the state.

“We have asked the government a number of times to set up regulatory authority to monitor the functioning of consultancies but the government didn’t take any initiative in this regard,” said Imtiyaz R Chasti, proprietor of Ask Me consultancy Srinagar.

Chasti said there are only few genuine consultancies with permanent offices while hundreds keep on changing their addresses and contact numbers.

“I have seen that some students after completing their degrees in outside colleges are sent here to set up consultancies and get students enrolled in the colleges,” Chasti said.Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar Syed Abid Shah said the matter will be taken up with the crime department of police.

“We will see how we can regulate them.”

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