Lucknow: On Saturday, June 6, Anamika Shukla, a science teacher at the Kasturba Vidyalaya school, tendered her resignation at the Basic Siksha Adhikaar (BSA) office in Kasganj. She was immediately held by the police in connection with a fraud worth several crores of rupees.
According to highly placed sources in the Uttar Pradesh Police, the accused was identified as Anamika Singh. In the initial stages of her interrogation, she confessed to having paid Rs 5 lakhs to someone called Raj, about a year and a half ago, in Mainpuri, for the job of a teacher.
As per officials of the Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Department, there could be 23 other persons who had used Anamika Singh’s credentials to get a job fraudulently.
“The problem is with the attendance system. For the past several decades, we have been coming across people who are doing their job after submitting fake mark-sheets and on fake credentials. The education department, which should be the most robust of them all, is the most backward department,” said an official who wished to remain anonymous.
Samina Bano, an activist who works on the education system in Uttar Pradesh, said the incident was not just an economic fraud but a fraud with the country.
“Now you can understand why teachers resisted the Prerna application (where they have to mark their attendance) so much. Anamika Shukla could have been one teacher whose credentials were used for 24 other teachers. The gravity of loss could be understood by the fact that, in 24 schools, ghost teachers were teaching kids and god knows how literate or educated they were,” she said.
Meanwhile, education officers in Raebareli and Baghpat have confirmed that ‘Anamika Shukla’ has been reported to have taught in schools in those areas as well.
In what can be termed an economic offence, a teacher allegedly managed to withdraw a salary of over Rs 70 lakhs over a period of 13 months while the Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Department (UPBED) had no clue about it.
The science teacher, Anamika Shukla, was found enrolled in over 25 campuses of the Kasturba Vidyalaya – schools for girls from the marginalised sections of society. She was drawing a salary from every campus that she had enrolled in, for a year, but it is yet to be ascertained if she was actually using the same bank account for these transactions, officials from the state education department told NewsClick. Shukla was untraceable.
The government of Uttar Pradesh has now launched a probe in the matter and is also looking to see if there was a racket behind this fraud. Shukla has been served a notice by the department.
“It could have been a case where one teacher’s documents were used to get jobs for other candidates in these schools. It is possible that this is a racket but it will be established once their exact modus operandi is exposed. This is fraud and there could be other such cases. The department should now go for an audit of the entire recruitment. Contractual jobs at Kasturba schools are lucrative; they provide a monthly income of Rs 22,000 with additional perks,” said a department official from Lucknow.
The official version:
Vijay Kiran Anand, the Director-General of School Education in Uttar Pradesh, told the media last Friday that the matter was first brought to their notice in March, when local media published a story about it.
“A detailed probe was ordered by the department in March. It had instructed every official of all the concerned districts to prepare a database and investigate wherever this particular teacher was reported,” he added.
It is to be noted that records of deployment of Anamika Shukla were found in Ambedkar Nagar, Prayagraj, Saharanpur, Baghpat, Aligarh, Raebareli, Amethi and in many other districts as well.
The runaway teacher Anamika Shukla:
As per the records with the education department, Anamika Shukla originally hails from Mainpuri. She was appointed on a basic salary of Rs 22,000 and was allegedly reporting to 25 schools fraudulently.
Over a period of 13 months, Shukla withdrew salary to the tune of Rs 71.5 lakhs and perks. Now, an FIR has been ordered against her and she has also been asked to reply to the notice issued to her.
Resignation through WhatsApp:
According to a media report, when the department tried to contact her, Shukla submitted her resignation to education department official Anand Prakash, in Raebareli, on WhatsApp. Shukla was appointed as a teacher in Raebareli on March 8, 2019, and now a local investigation has also been ordered against her there.
Meanwhile, the Basic Education Department has withheld her salary and frozen her bank accounts with immediate effect.
U.P. Basic Education Minister, Satish Dwivedi, in a press conference on Friday, said the fraud was unearthed only after the creation of a digital database. “It is a priority of the government to bring transparency through digital databases so that all such cases can be detected,” he added.
The government of Uttar Pradesh has also decided to launch an investigation against all the teachers posted at the state’s 746 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs).
“Teachers lay the foundation of country and such incidents cause a dent in our future. This is the reason that people who really want to teach do not get an opportunity to do so,” said Bano. She added that people should not be surprised if the government’s “tech intervention in basic education exposes many such fraud teachers in the coming days.”