SRINAGAR: Since the early 1990s, Pakistan government has been allotting about 100 seats annually in MBBS and other professional courses in its institutions for Kashmiri students whose kin have been martyred or those who have been associated with the resistance movement. Do the deserving candidates get their due? Resistance leaders say they do but a significant share of these seats is also either “sold” to those who do not meet the criteria.
Apart from MBBS course, which is the major chunk of the quota, admissions are given to Kashmiri students in engineering, BTech, dentistry and veterinary sciences.
Hurriyat Conference (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar said the undivided Hurriyat Conference had set up a body exclusively for processing such admissions. No leader of any constituent organisation of the Hurriyat had a say in the admissions, he added.
Children of police officers and bureaucrats were recommended by none other than Hurriyat leaders. I think hardly five to ten per cent of the seats have gone to the kin of martyrs
“Initially, the quota reached the deserving candidates, but that did not last long. If there were five seats, there were hundreds of claimants. The standard of the selection process declined,” Akbar said.
He said that Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani has never had anything to do with the admissions ever since he formed his own resistance group, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
“These days there is no fair distribution. I have heard that many lower-rung leaders who are allotted one or two seats every year might have taken small donations from people,” said another Hurriyat leader on condition of anonymity.
He added that in the absence of a system, there is ample scope for nepotism and corruption.
“Ideally the resistance leaders should hunt for the deserving students than wait for them to come because not many people are aware of the quotas,” he said.
This year, a Pakistani official dealing with these admissions said, 70 Kashmiri students have been provided admissions to MBBS and engineering courses. Some of these admissions are funded through scholarships provided by Pakistan government and ‘Azad Kashmir’ government, he said.
“Preference is given to the kin of martyrs,” he said.
However, a senior Hurriyat leader told Kashmir Reader that “it is common knowledge that there is rampant nepotism in these admissions”.
“Children of police officers and bureaucrats were recommended by none other than Hurriyat leaders. I think hardly five to ten per cent of the seats have gone to the kin of martyrs,” he said.
A veteran Hurriyat leader, however, said that by and large only the meritorious and deserving students are recommended by the resistance leaders.
“The letter of recommendation mentions the contribution of the kin of the student. Students’ academic merit is the key criterion. Contribution towards the freedom struggle only adds to the eligibility of a candidate. Leaders’ recommendations only ease visa process and other formalities,” he said.
Resistance leaders, he said, are sometimes faced with a dilemma of recommending a less bright student whose kin have contributed towards the struggle over an academically brilliant student whose family may not have contributed as much.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chairman Shabir Ahmad Shah are among also recommends the students.
An official in one of the Hurriyats said that in the past, lower rung leaders would often bring the parents of non-deserving candidates to the top leadership and seek recommendations for their wards.
“Once the recommendation letter was signed by the top leader, the lower rung leader would then seek money from the parents. Some of them got exposed and over the time the top leadership became cautious. These days, I would say, the process is by and large fair,” he added.