SRINAGAR: The only coaching centre registered by the government belongs to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s brother-in-law while Higher Education Minister Akbar Lone, state Congress president Saif-ud-Din Soz, and Minister of State for Public Health Engineering Nazir Gurezi together own five B Ed colleges in Kashmir Valley.
This was stated by Coaching Centres Association (CCA) on Tuesday in response to government statement in the Assembly that only two coaching centres are registered in the state.
“After government’s response in Assembly, we approached the Director School Education for details, but he avoided us. We submitted an RTI, but the government again avoided response. Then we learned from our sources that only one coaching centre has been registered by the state, and that belonging to CM’s brother-in-law Asim Khan,” CCA president GN Var told reporters at a news conference here.
“Khan’s coaching centre is just five to six months old, and it isn’t even a part of our association. The file pertaining to its registration has been kept in Director Education’s personal locker. And the figure of two registered coaching centres was mentioned (in the House) to divert attention,” Var added.
Coaching centres have been under a scanner in the recent past following incidents of misconduct like acid attacks and eve-teasing involving their students. The debate over mushrooming of coaching centre was rejuvenated recently when a student was allegedly raped by her tutor at a coaching centre here.
The government has been asking coaching centres to upgrade their infrastructure, stick to norms, and register themselves with the departments concerned. After the rape incident, the coaching centres are frequently inspected and asked to adhere to the norms.
Var, however, said the Omar-led coalition government has politicized the issue to for “its business interests.”
“Of around 550 coaching centres, around 140 have applied for registration, but government is not keen to complete the process. On top of it, the government is repeatedly stating that all coaching centres are running illegally,” he said. “It seems the Abdullah family is using this opportunity to divert its businesses towards education sector. Otherwise, there is no reason for the government to ignore 140 coaching centres and register a particular one.”
The Minister for Education and Director School Education, Var alleged, have taken bribe from several coaching centres to allow their functioning.
“Last time, we didn’t allow membership to coaching centres having poor infrastructure. Subsequently, government carried raids as an eyewash, and the next day Director Education accepted Rs 10 lakh from these coaching centres to allow them to function. And later in a meeting the Director told me that the minister also has some reservations. What does that mean?” Var said.
If Var is to be believed, the “malpractices” in the education sector have been stretched to B Ed colleges as well, as government is registering B Ed colleges on the name of MLAs and ministers alone.
“Nazir Gurezi is not the only person who got a B Ed college in recent years; Akbar Lone and Saif-ud-Din Soz have two B. Ed colleges each. MLAs and ministers have been the only people getting B Ed colleges while doors have been closed for unemployed youth,” Var said.
He alleged that private B. Ed colleges operating in the Valley pay hefty sums to Education Minister and some bureaucrats to ensure blanket ban on new B Ed colleges.
“I am eyewitness to the fact that B Ed colleges pool Rs 2 crore every year to pay one crore each to Minister and Commissioner (Education),” he said.
Meanwhile, the coaching centres across the Valley are observing one-day strike on February 21 against the government.
“All coaching centre will be closed on the day. We know the students will suffer, but we have no choice. Government’s approach has forced us to take this stand,” Var said, adding that the CCA will also move application to Crime Branch of the police for probe into the malpractices in the registration process.