Tehelka’s Cover Story in this issue “Yet another Kashmir File”, comes on the heels of the film “The Kashmir Files” which is centered around an exodus of Kashmiri Hindus following alleged genocide from the Valley. While the fictional account in the movie digs into the past to tell untold tales, the Cover Story by our Special Investigation Team lays bare how Pakistan’s policy to admit Kashmiri students into its professional colleges under a scholarship programme is being exploited by Hurriyat leaders. The students, whose parents or close relatives have been killed by the security forces in Kashmir or have “suffered at the hands of Indian forces”, are given preference for seats under the scholarship programme for MBBS and other courses. The recent phenomena is that in some medical colleges in Pakistan, a vast majority of the new admissions from among the Kashmiri students are women.
The dream to become a doctor has always been daunting for Kashmiri students who had sought admission to Pakistan’s medical colleges in view of alleged harassment at the border, nagging questions over their ideology, and their scanning on return by security agencies.
However, what could add to their cup of woes is that in April this year, the University Grants Commission and the All Indian Council for Technical Education have issued a statement, that “Any Indian national who intends to take admission in any educational institution of Pakistan shall not be eligible for seeking employment or higher studies in India on the basis of such educational qualifications acquired in Pakistan.” Taking a cue, the National Medical Commission has also issued a similar warning that any Indian student who wishes to pursue MBBS, BDS or any other equivalent medical degree from Pakistan shall not be eligible to appear for FMGE or seek employment in India on the basis of the educational qualifications gained from Pakistan universities.
Already in 2017, degrees obtained from colleges in PoK were declared invalid by MCI as India does not recognise PoK as part of Pakistan. The reason, the officials said, was that these youths were brainwashed across the border and some of them were imparted with arms training or recruited in sleeper cells. There are allegations that a well-oiled separatist lobby would arrange recommendation letters from Hurriyat leaders and other valid travel documents from the Pakistan Embassy to facilitate their visit to Pakistan for admission.
Also, there have been allegations that some separatist leaders, especially, seek monetary benefits from the students before issuing them recommendation letters. According to the police, separatists were pumping the funds earned into militancy in Kashmir. Both the National Investigation Agency and the State Investigating Agency are probing the role of Kashmiri students in militancy and money laundering. The SIA has filed a charge sheet related to “selling” MBBS seats in Pakistan to Kashmiri students and using the money to support and fund terrorism. There are allegations that even wards of some police officers have managed recommendation letters from the separatist leaders for admission into medical courses in Pakistan. Indeed worrisome!