Srinagar: As many as 40 candidates may be the beneficiaries of multi-million cash-for-paper scam, according to Farooq Ahmad Itoo, the main ‘broker’ in the scandal and a close associate of former chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE) Mushtaq Ahmad Peer.
Itoo, who has been granted pardon by the Special Judge Anti-Corruption, deposed before Chief Judicial Magistrate Verinder Singh Bahu, revealing all details within his knowledge about the scam which has been described as mega scandal of BOPEE by the Crime Branch of police.
“As per my understanding, 40 candidates would be the beneficiaries in the selection list of Common Entrance Test (CET) of 2012” Itoo told the court.
So far the Crime Branch has identified 12 candidates of the beneficiaries and it is likely to file chargesheet against nine more candidates before the court in next few days.
Itoo said his friendship with Peer dated back to 2001 when the latter headed Department of Computer Sciences in Kashmir University. He said Peer inspected his computer institute at Bijbehara in his absence and later he paid Rs three thousand as fuel charges to Peer “which he accepted.”
Itoo said his proximity with Peer continued to grow, and in 2008, he managed an admission for a student for B Pharmacy through Peer in Kashmir University.
“In 2009, one of my friends Bashir Ahmad Dar met me and said that a candidate Mushtaq Ahmad Lone was figuring at the end of MBBS list of 2009 but the authorities deny him admission on the reasons that his name had figured wrongly. Dar asked for help and requested me to take up the issue with Peer,” Itoo said.
He said he accompanied Dar and father of Lone to Jammu where they met Peer and took up the matter with him. “Peer said that Lone’s name had figured incorrectly in the list as the deserving candidate was one Parika Sharma who has been selected.”
However, Itoo said, Peer told him that Lone can be given a BVSc seat against a monetary consideration of Rs three lakh. “On a request for concession, Peer agreed to give the seat against Rs 1.50 lakh,” Itoo said, adding that Lone was later taken for BVSc course.
In 2010, he said he managed several works through Peer against monetary considerations.
“In 2012, Bashir Ahmad Dar again approached me for a MBBS seat of his maternal cousin. Subsequently, I approached Peer who declined at first but agreed after several requests,” Itoo said.
Later, he said, Peer told him to keep two or three candidates ready for medical seats against an amount of Rs 60 lakh. “I could not manage three candidates who could pay Rs 20 lakh each, but could arrange a group of nine candidates against a total amount of Rs 74. 50 lakh,” he said, adding, “I thought even if I pay Rs 60 lakh to him, I can have Rs 14.50 lakh for myself.”
Subsequently, Itoo said he paid Rs 30 lakh to Peer at his residence at around 9:30 pm on June 22, 2012 after which Peer handed over Physics and Chemistry papers to him.
“I leaked the paper to six candidates at a hotel and among three girl candidates at the residence of my friend Farooq Ahmad Sheikh at Nishat,” he said.
Besides, Itoo said, he had already struck a deal with one of his friends Sajjad Ahmad Bhat against Rs 30 lakh even as he had sought Rs 70 lakhs from him. “He only gave Rs 8 lakh to me,” Itoo said.
On June 22, 2012, Itoo said, he gave a set of Physics and Chemistry papers along with the ‘key’ to Sajjad. For Biology paper, he said, Peer called him to Naseem Bagh and provided him the paper along with its ‘key’.
“After receiving the paper, Peer asked for the outstanding amount and I promised him payment on next day,” he said. On next day, he said Peer called him from his office landline around 1 pm and demanded the outstanding amount.
“I told him that that payment will be made after the result was out. Once it was declared and all my nine candidates figured in the selection list, I collected the money from them and paid Peer Rs 20 lakh. Later, I paid Rs 10 lakh at Jammu,” Itoo said.
The nine candidates named by him include Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, Khursheed Ahmad Dar, Naveed Hussain, Yasir Yousuf Dar, Yaser Yousuf Hajam, Khursheed Ahmad Dar, Waheedul Rehman, Miss Bazila Bilal and Amira Shakeel.
The Crime Branch has named 12 students and nine parents in the chargesheet. While all parents have been arrested, six other students, three of them minors, are yet to be arrested in the case.
The ex-BOPEE chief and other accused are lodged in Central Jail Srinagar and have been chargeshteed in case FIR 24/2013 Under Section 420, 120B RPC, 5(2)d r/w (5(2) PC Act of Police Station Crime Branch.