JAMMU: The crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed today to have exposed a major scam at an IGNOU centre in Kathua district, where nearly 4,000 students were issued bogus degrees without appearing in examinations.
The scam at the Indira Gandhi National Open University centre was unearthed after the police received an input that a person - identified as Prashant Bandari - and his associates were involved in fraudulently conducting examinations and giving admissions to students at the centre established in Billawar town in 2014-15, a crime branch spokesman said.
"About 4,000 students have been shown taken admission through the centre and till date no examination has been conducted by this centre.
The students enrolled through the centre have been shown appeared in examinations and degrees issued to them," he said.
The centre runs two admission sessions - in January and July - and two examinations sessions - in June and December - every year with enrolment of 800 to 1,200 students in each session, the spokesman said.
Citing the preliminary investigation, he said bogus attendance sheets and answer sheets were submitted to IGNOU using the centre codes of Katra, Kishtwar, Chatroo and Paddar.
He said thousands of rupees were collected from each candidate and the money was embezzled through bank accounts opened in the name of the chairman and a non-existent coordinator.
The honorarium of faculty members and counsellors was also swindled by Bandari, his associate Bhopinder Gupta and others in connivance with a few IGNOU officials.
"In this scandal, officials of IGNOU and post offices are involved in preparing fake answer sheets at regional centres," the spokesman said.
He said a case has been registered but no arrest has been made so far.