Maharashtra Govt Investigates Alleged Misuse of Reservation Benefits by ST Students
Maharashtra Govt Investigates Alleged Misuse of Reservation Benefits by ST Students

Mumbai: An interim report presented in the Maharashtra Assembly has revealed a concerning trend wherein 257 Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, who identified with religions other than Hinduism, have reportedly availed reservation benefits for admissions to Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the state.

Skill Development Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha disclosed that the Maharashtra government has initiated a committee to compile data on ST students enrolled under reservations in ITIs but who have purportedly converted to Christianity or Islam. Lodha emphasized the government's commitment to verifying the records of these students to determine the validity of their admissions, with potential police action if necessary to protect the rights of STs.

The report, focusing on admissions to ITIs in Maharashtra in 2023, found that out of 13,858 students admitted under ST quotas, 257 students identified with religions other than Hinduism. Among them, 37 students were reported as Muslims, four as Buddhists, three as Christians, and one as Sikh. Additionally, approximately 190 students indicated other faiths on their admission forms, while details on religious faith were unavailable for 22 students.

Under existing government rules, 7.5% of seats are reserved for ST quotas, with individuals belonging to STs entitled to reservation benefits regardless of their religious affiliation. However, concerns arise when students purportedly convert to other religions after obtaining certificates as Hindu STs, potentially exploiting the reservation system for double benefits.

The committee, led by Dr. Murlidhar Chandekar, former Vice-Chancellor of Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University, is tasked with investigating these cases to protect the rights of tribal communities. Plans include visiting the students in question, their respective ITIs, residing villages, and integrated tribal development projects to determine the impact of religious conversion on tribal customs and traditions.

As part of its mandate, the committee aims to identify cases of conversion, formulate policies to prevent such occurrences, and safeguard ST reservation seats. Chandekar stressed the importance of preserving these seats for genuine ST students and ensuring that policies are in place to prevent misuse of reservation benefits.

The Maharashtra government's proactive approach to addressing the alleged misuse of reservation benefits reflects its commitment to upholding the rights of marginalized communities and maintaining the integrity of reservation policies in educational institutions. Through thorough investigation and policy formulation, the government seeks to prevent further instances of exploitation while safeguarding opportunities for genuine ST students.

After all, on what matter did the father bring himself down with the children to death?

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