Pilibhit Bareilly
New Scam In Poll-Bound State: Parents Line Up For `Cash Benefits’ of `2 Lakh
There is a new scam in poll-bound UP .The Union ministry for women and child development has been receiving lakhs of application forms, filled up and signed by parents of girl children from Uttar Pradesh seeking cash benefits under the `Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme of the Centre.The problem is, the scheme in reality does not have any cash benefit component at all. However, parents across the state have been buying fake forms which are being distributed by virtually everyone, from stationery shops to Jan Suvidha Kendras, for as little as Rs 5-10.

The parents are told that the form will entitle them to cash benefits worth Rs 2 lakh each in the name of their daughters, and that the mo ney would be credited to their accounts when the girl reaches the age of 18. An estimated 30,000 of these forms have been sent from virtually each district in the state in the past fortnight, when the forms first appeared.

On February 16, the ministry issued a warning notice to the public to beware of such fraud. The ministry clarified that there was no such provision to dispense cash under the scheme. Despite this, the forms continue to be sold and sent by parents. “Around 5,000 of the forms have been sent every day for the past five days to the Union ministry from the head post office here alone. The average number of registered posts sent every day used to be 250 to 300 before the forms first appeared on February 16. Now it is a deluge, too many to count,“ said Uma Shankar, officiating head postmaster, Pilibhit.

Ramkumar, an acharya (preacher) at the Gayatri Pragya Peeth in Pilibhit city , told TOI that he also sent two appli cation forms to the ministry in the names of his teenage daughters. “I bought them for Rs 5 each and got them attested from my gram pradhan.Almost everybody I know has done it or is in the process of getting a form, so I saw no reason not to believe that this was a genuine scheme,“ he said.

According to the `guidelines’ printed on the single page application form, girls and women aged between 8 and 32 years are eligible to submit their applications to the ministry. “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is a social awareness campaign to help bring about gender equality . There is no cash benefit involved. It is possible that there is some political mischief intended behind this scam. A concerted campaign needs to be launched to arrest those who are selling the forms,“ said Pilibhit district magistrate Masoom Ali Sarvar. On February 15, seven women were arrested in Muzaffarnagar for allegedly duping people by taking money to `enroll’ them for the fake scheme. Two other arrests have been made in Pilibhit. However, the sale of the forms, and the parents lining up to get them for their daughters, has not stopped yet.

Others are seeing a political conspiracy behind the sudden appearance of the forms around the beginning of the elections. “This is part of propaganda for the BJP . When the forms started appearing in rural areas, people started talking about the central scheme. This was meant to promote the BJP’s policies, so that people would vote for them,“ alleged Swami Pravaktananda, RLD candidate from Barkhera constituency and a close aide of Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi.