By Md. Hizbullah

In a year-long investigation on dozens of education and district level officials in Uttar Pradesh, Cobrapost found that several hundred crores of rupees allocated by the government for providing dresses for school children in the state are being siphoned off by District Education Officers, Block Education Officers, Gram and Nagar Panchayat officials, among others. Even school teachers and headmasters manage to get a cut of the commission.

Several hundred crores of rupees are being released by the government as grant on a yearly basis to provide uniforms to school-going children in villages, of which a large amount goes into the pockets of babus of the education department as commission.

During the course of our lengthy investigation in over a dozen blocks of six districts in Uttar Pradesh, namely: Gautam Budh Nagar, Meerut, Hapur, Bagpat, Ghaziabad and Kanpur. Cobrapost correspondent Md. Hizbullah posed as a supplier of school uniforms and met several of these officials. What they had to say on hidden camera unearths a Huge scam involving District Education Officers, Block Education Officers, Gram Nagar Panchayat officials and many others.

Incidentally, under the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of India, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (formerly called the ministry of education), the government provides free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 years. The main objectives of distribution of free uniforms is to retain children enrolled in schools until the compulsory stage and to bring quality among all children in schools. The Constitution of India also enables all children in the age group of six to 14 years to have a right to education as a Fundamental Right, apart from many other educational benefits. Officials seem to be unconcerned about what the Constitution says; they are more interested in using the free uniforms scheme to make a quick buck.

The reporter, during the investigation, meets Block Education Officer M.L. Patel of Block Dhaulna in Hapur District. Patel lays out his cards in the very first meeting and tells the correspondent: “Yeh batao aap… teacheron ki demand toh zyada hai… kaise hoga? 50-60 toh wohi maang rahe hai… Pichle saal bhi kiya tha usne woh 100 mein de raha tha… (You tell me.. teachers demand more… how can it be done? They are asking for Rs. 50-60. Last year he [supplier] was giving it for Rs. 100).” But what about the quality? The correspondent asks. Patel says: “Quality dekh lo aap kaisi aayegi (You have to see what quality it can be).” So Patel doesn’t care about the quality of the school uniforms. What he wants is a fat cut for himself. The correspondent tells him that it will be better if they go for uniforms for Rs. 120 each as the quality at a lower cost will be inferior and unpresentable.

During the conversation, it also comes to light that last year, school uniforms were supplied for Rs. 120 each and a clear margin of Rs. 80 was given as commission on each one of them. Patel asks the correspondent to supply uniforms at the same price. Patel says: “ 100 rupayee mein kar raha tha pichle saal bhi kiya tha … is saal bhi kar raha hai… bas yehi hai aap 120 me do hum ko…(Even last year he [supplier] did for Rs. 100. He is doing it this year as well. This is the situation… you give it for Rs. 120 to us).”

Later when our correspondent reached Patel again, he remember their earlier meeting but when the correspondent revealed that he was a journalist to Patel ,” I’m from Cobrapost and I’m doing a story on uniform scam in UP.” , he said, “nahi nahi aise kuch hai nahi… abi baat krunga aapse baad me thik hai…abi baad me baat krta hun thik hai “ (no there is nothing like that…I will talk to you later…alright.)

During the investigation, the reporter also meets MC Sharma Block Education Officer of Baraut block in Baghpat. Sharma during the initial stages of the meeting clearly says that the commission on each uniform here is fixed at Rs.60.

When the reporter tells Sharma regarding his purpose of visit, Sharma says: “ Yaha ek cheez main bata du aapko… mere yaha poori pardarshita rehti hai… neeche kisi ko nahi batata hu… lekin jo unko milna hai… wo nischit hai… bilkul neeche se upar… top to bottom… hamara pehle kar deenge tay token money ke roop me… phir apna neeche apna karte huye chale jayege… phir jo hoga hisaab… aapke aur hamare beech mein ho jayega… (Let me tell you one thing. There is a total transparency. I don’t tell the subordinates. But what they get is fixed. From bottom to top. You will give our token money and pay the juniors as well… then whatever be the calculations… that will be taken care of within both of us)”

Sharma says: “Dekhiye main batau… headmaster ko apne aap dene hai… usko 30 rupayee dene hai… 10 dene hai 5 NBRC ko aur 5 rupayee BRC ko… shesh hamko karna hai… 80 rupayee mere… lekin wo mere aur aapke beech ki baatein hai… ( See I tell you. You will yourself have to pay the headmaster. You will give him Rs. 30.5 to NBRC and 5 to BRC. Rest you will give us. Rs 80 will be mine. But that will be between you and me)”

Later, when Cobrapost contacted Sharma to get the his reaction before publication, he said,” dhyan nahi aa raha hai bhai…hamari tho koi baat hui nahi thi apse” ( cannot remember anything…we never spoke before.)

Next, the correspondent meets Block Education Officer Mamta Bharti of the Jewar Block in Gautam Budh Nagar. Bharti told the correspondent that last time each school uniform was bought for Rs. 150. The correspondent strikes a deal with Bharti for Rs. 140 per uniform. It may be mentioned here again that the governments grants Rs. 200 per school uniform being procured by a school. So Bharti gets Rs. 50 as commission for each uniform a school buys. She also asks for an advance commission and says that the quality of the uniforms should be good. Bjarti says: “140 mey dey saktay hain … 150 phir 160, 170 … jaise bhi achchi sey achchi (You can give us for Rs. 140, Rs. 150, 160, 170… whatever… but good quality).”

She insists on an advance. “Advance karna padega (You will have to give advance).” She asks the correspondent, who is posing as a ‘supplier’, to carry out the business on behalf of two to three firms so that no questions can be raised in case there is an investigation.

About the advance amount, Bharti says: “Aap jitna bhi total ho raha hai… 75 percent mein hi karwa do baki 25 percent baad mein aa jayega… usme 2-3 firm lagani hogi… basically 31 ke aas paas ka hai… wo 10-10 lakh ka work is tarah divide karna hai hame… 10-10 lakh ka kaam teeno firm ko chala jaye (Whatever the total is you pay us 75 per cent in advance rest 25 per cent will be done later. You have to put in two-three firms… the order is of around Rs. 31 lakh…we have to divide it in say Rs 10 lakh -10 lakh… all three firms will get work of Rs. 10 lakh each).”

When our fake ‘supplier’ assures Bharti that he will pay a token amount as advance commission soon, she assures of all help to strike the deal. She says: “Thik hai… photocopy bhi mil jayegi… aur bata doongi main aapko kaha kaha kaam karna hai… ( Ok…we will provide the photocopy…and I will tell you where you have to work).”

When our reporter contacted Mamta Bharti for her version before publication of story, she remembered the earlier meeting with reporter. And her reactions went something like this when Cobrapost revealed itself to her. “Samjhi nahi meh apki baat”, said the boggled Bharti. (I did not get what you said) then on further explaining she said, “ Nahi. Iskey barey meh mujhey koi baat nahi karni aap se.” ( No. I don’t want to talk about this to you.) Further more she called back cobrapost and said, “ tumse tho meh mili bhi nahi hu. Aur ye farji kahania bana rahey ho tum!huh!” and slanged after that. ( I have never met you before. Alright? And don’t make up fake cases! )She did not only stop at that and called us the third time, some time later. These were her words exactly, “aap blackmail kar rahey ho! Aap blackmail kar rahey ho! Dhara pata hai na kaun si lagti hai blackmailing ki. Pata hai na?…samajh meh arhi hai baat?! … nahi meh puch rahi hu aap kab aye ho milney ke lia?… accha tumharey paas recorded hai tho fir dekhao tumhara recording? Nahi tho blackmail karogey kisi larki ko?…nah you are black mailing! Larkio ko blackmail karta hai?!” and snapped the call with bad words.( You are blackmailing! You are blackmailing! Do you know the section that will be charged under blackmailing? Know that?… are you getting that? No, I’m asking when did we meet?…. okay so you have it recorded then show it. Or you will blackmail girls?… no you are blackmailing! Blackmailing girls!)

Enlightened by these revelations, Hizbullah meets Neeraj Kumar Rana, Block Education Officer of Dankaur in Gautambuddh Nagar with a proposal of supplying school uniforms in his block. Rana agrees to award the contract to our ‘supplier’ but on certain conditions. He openly talks about cuts and commissions if our correspondent gets the contract. Hizbullah then tells Rana that he will supply uniforms at Rs. 120 to Rs. 200, on which Rana says: “Main aapko clearly bata deta hu… hamare yaha scene yeh hai school mein jo uniform jaati hai we log kuch kam mein lete hai… kuch margin wo apne liye rakhte hai… kuch margin documentation ke liye rehta hai… kuch margin chahe wo unke through aaye ye aapke through… hum logo ke liye rehta hai… jaha tak jaanta hu… aap yeh maan kar chaliye 160-170 ka rate chalta hai… (I am telling you clearly. The scene here is… the school uniform is supplied at a lower price… some margin they keep for themselves… some is kept for documentation… there is some for us… as far as I know… you can keep this in mind that the rate is around Rs. 160-170).”

Will it be alright if our ‘supplier’ quotes Rs. 170 per uniform? Rana replies: “Usme kuch margin rehta hai hum logo ka… aap yeh maan kar chaliye lagbhag 150-160 ki range tak aapko milta hai… (There is some margin for us. You can take this into account that the range you get is around Rs. 150-160).”

Rana also warns the correspondent, who is posing as a uniform supplier, that if he doesn’t get his cut the contract may be cancelled. He has done this in the past. Rana says: “Is baar mainey reject kar diya… mainey market se hi reject kara diye… jo paise bheje they… hum logo ne report laga di ki we are not satisfied with this stuff.. co-operation karne walo ke saath hi ooperation hoti hai… nahi karne walo ke saath nahi hoti…(I rejected this year. Rejected it from the market itself. The money they sent… we prepared a report that we are not satisfied with this stuff. We only cooperate with the people who cooperate with us).”

Rana adds that some people are already trying to get the contract and are offering a rate of Rs. 160 per uniform. He says that giving and taking a commission is normal practice. He says: “Karne ko to zyada percentage bhi chalti hai… maine to aapko wok kaha hai jo bilkul minimize hai… aap maan kar chaliye… teachers ke liye… hai wo 160 ke aas paas ka hai… 160 ki agar aap dete ho sabhi kit oh I think they are happy. 170 mey bhi lengay lekin woh 160 mujhe lagta hai wo ek cut off hai… uske niche kam hi log ja pa rahe honge.. (There are higher percentages as well. I have told you the minimum. You take this into account that for the teachers it is around Rs. 160. If you can give it at this rate then they will be happy. They will take it even for Rs. 170 but I think the cut off is Rs. 160. People cannot go lower than that).”

Rana asks the correspondent to meet him once again so that he can introduce him to other officials and school teachers. Rana says: “Aap kal aa jaiye main baat kar leta hu… as a option aapko present kar doonga main… uske baad aapko apne aap deal karna parega… individually deal karna parega… Hum logo se ek baar kehlane ke baad na ki inka theek haii… wo samajh jaate hai ki yeh approved hai… koi dikkat nahi hai (You come tomorrow, I will talk to them. I will present you as an option. Then you will have to go for the deal yourself. Individually. After I tell them that you are good… they understand that you are already approved. There is no problem).”
Rana wants an assurance that the quality of the uniforms will be good. He says: “Galti nikalne ke liye nahi nikali jaayegi… quality bahut kharab na ho bas. (Mistakes will not be considered for the sake of pin pointing things… the only thing is the quality should not be very inferior).”

Rana also assures the ‘supplier’ of all help regarding recommendation and during inspection, if there is one in the future. Rana says: “ Usme do cheez aapko dhyaan mein rakhni paregi… jis school mein aap de rahe ho to ek ka ho aisa na ho… ek ke bajaye do ka… actually inspection to hum hi nahi karenge… district level ki team bhi karti hai (Two things you will have to keep in mind. The school where you are giving… you should give it into two [bills]. Actually the inspection will not be done only by us but by district level team as well).” Rana asks the Cobrapost correspondent to bring two samples the next day so that he can recommend him to schools and officials.

Later when Cobrapost rang up Rana to get his reaction before publication and revealed that he was a journalist to him, he said, “ Jee hamari tho aysi koi baat nahi hui thi, nahi meyney uniform ke silsiley meh aysi koi baat kit hi.” ( no we never had any such conversation, nor had ever said such a thing about the uniforms.)

Next, our correspondent goes to meet Renu Yadav, Block Education Officer of Razapur Block in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh. He meets Renu Yadav’s secretary Hanif and lays down his business proposal. Hanif says that the going rate for each uniform is Rs. 160. He says: “Rs. 160 with dupatta… boys ka Rs. 150 (Rs. 160 with dupatta for girls and for boys Rs. 150)”.

During the same meeting, Renu Yadav says that she has five Nyay Panchayat Resource Centres (NPRC) under her jurisdiction under which almost 10,000 school uniforms are required. She assures all help to the ‘supplier’ got bag the contract. She says: “Hamare NPRC mein kam se kam 10, 000 bacche hai… ek NPRC ki baat kara denge (There are atleast 10, 000 children in our NPRC. I can talk about one NPRC).”

However, Hanif wants an assurance of secrecy. He says: “Behenji ka kahi involvement nahi hona chahiye… bilkul alag rahegi yeh… kyunki dress ka mamla hai.. bilkul kahi zikr na ho…(Behenji’s name should not come up. You should keep her separate as this is a matter regarding (supply of) dresses. There should be no talks of her)”.

Our ‘supplier’ offers each uniform at Rs. 160 plus Rs. 10 each for Renu Yadav. She readily agrees. “But what about Hanif’s commission?” asks our correspondent. Renu Yadav replies: “Main apna janti hu… inka nahi jaanti ( I know about mine. Not about his). ” And she will take the commission in cash.

Later however, Cobrapost tried to reach her several times but she did not receive the call.

Next, our correspondent meets Vinod Kumar, Block Education Officer of Jani district in Meerut and his deputy Premchand. During the first meeting, Vinod Kumar makes it clear that everything is possible for a commission. He says that a contract to supply uniforms to schools in an entire block cannot be given to one firm. Premchand tells our ‘supplier’ to give quotations in the name of three firms to cover schools in the entire block.

While negotiating the deal, Vinod Kumar says: “Hum maximum karwane ki koshish karenge lekin aisa nahi hai ki aapko poora block mile. Hum aapko nyaya panchayat wise karwa sakte hai… centralized purchasing to ho hi nahi sakti… ya to firm alag alag ho to hum karwa sakte hai (I will try for the maximum but it is not like that you will get the entire block. I can do it for you Nyay Panchayat wise. Centralized purchasing cannot be done. If the firms are different then I can do it for you).”

So our ‘supplier’ can get the contract for all the schools in the entire block if he gives quotes for uniforms in the name of two firms, asks our correspondent. Vinod Kumar says: “Two firm haan… hum nyay panchayat car aapko dilwa deenge job hi nyay panchayat me milwayenge hum yeh chahenge ki har nyay panchayat mein 1-1; 2-2 ke jo hai mix ke lag jaye (Yes two firms… I will arrange aNyay Panchayat car for you. When I introduce you in the Nyay Panchayat I want you to mix (the firms trying to get the contracts) in one-one, two-two).”

Like some others, Vinod Kumar also asks for advance commission. In return he will see to it that the correspondent receives prompt payment and there is no delay. He says: “Kuch toh pehley karwa dengay aur jo hai baad mey karna padega… aur hum payment karwa dengay … wo koi dikkat nahi ayegi (You have to pay some in advance and the rest in balance. I will get you the payments done. There is no problem in that)”.

Vinod Kumar also offers to get the ‘supplier’ school uniform contracts in other blocks, for a commission. He says: Hum aur bhi karwa deenge. Hamare paas hai jugaad. Bahut bacche hai yaha pe. (I will get some more for you. I have contacts. There are many children out here).”

Premchand wants an advance payment right away. He says: “Bhai bhaga dauri rahegi hamari bhi saari… to job hi hai aap alag se. Aap ek kaam karo… aap sir ko kuch kar do…aapka ho jayega ( Brother… we have to make arrangements. Whatever you can do apart from this… you do one thing first… give something (money in advance) to sir. Your’s (job) will be done).

When our correspondent meets Vinod Kumar again after a few days, he assures him of providing a contract for uniforms for 20-22 more schools under two Nyay Panchayats. He says: “Do nyay panchayat hum aapko dilwa deenge… idhar se Modi nagar se ho jayegi…20-22 school hai… (We will get you two Nyay Panchayats. You will get it from Modi Nagar on this side. There are 20-22 schools altogether).”

Vinod Kumar tells the ‘supplier’ to quote Rs. 160 per uniform when he goes to schools. He says: “Rate 160 quote karna aur isse zyada bataoge to koi lega nahi… us din hamari baat baat hui thi aapne kaha tha 135 ka hum de deenge wow ala aur 135 ka aur 160 bata deenge… to waha pe 25 rupayee dress ka rahega na… hum aapko 25 mein kar deenge… (Quote a rate of Rs. 160 per uniform. If you quote higher then there will be no takers. That day when we had a conversation you told me that you will give it for Rs. 135 and you will tell it as Rs. 160. Then there will be Rs. 25 each. I will do (job) this for Rs. 25).”

When our correspondent asks him about the progress on the earlier “contracts”, Vinod Kumar demands another Rs. 8 per uniform for the deal. He says: “Aath rupees ek dress par kar do… thodi si understanding rehni chahiye. Bahut zyada nahi lekin hum kar deenge” (You keep Rs. 8 per dress (for me). There should be a little understanding. It may not be huge but I will do it).”

However, later when Cobrapost spoke to Vinod Kumar for his version before the publication, he could not remember a thing about the above meeting but called back later and said,”aap hamse hamari office meh akey humsey milia.” (you come and meet me at my office)

Still posing as a school uniform supplier, the Cobrapost correspondent then meets Arun Kumar, the Block Education Officer in another block in Hapur Nagar. The correspondent tells Arun Kumar that he wants to strike a deal regarding school uniforms for 18,000 children in his block. Arun Kumar assures all help to the correspondent.

The correspondent asks Arun Kumar what type of deal does he want? Arun Kumar opens up and discusses all possibilities at length, and says: “Aisa hai na… Isme bade uche pad ke adhikari isme jo hai block level hai na district level, state level ki bani hui hai taskforce nirikshan ke liye. Toh aisi cheez honi chahiye jisme koi dikkat matlab… koi jo hai us par… (The thing is that there is a task force comprising senior officials of the block, district and state level for inspection. So the things should be clear so that there are no problems later on…No one should raise questions).” What Arun Kumar wants are good quality uniforms at a cheap price. He says: “Quality jo aisi rahe ki ekdum yeh na kahe ke haan ji bilkul ghatiya kaam kar diya (Quality should be good so that nobody can say that it is of the poor quality).

While the government approved rate for each dress is Rs. 200, we quote Rs. 130 per dress to Arun Kumar. The correspondent tells him clearly that rest of the amount – Rs. 70 per uniform — can be divided as commission amongst government officials and teachers. Arun Kumar accepts the offer at once and gives several suggestions on how the deal can be struck without any glitches. He advises the correspondent to divide the billing amount on three different heads to indicate that the uniforms have been done supplied by three different firms.

While the mode of payment for the uniforms is being discussed, the correspondent informs Arun Kumar about how the payment will be made by him. During the discussions, Arun Kumar says: “Accha matlab bill jo hai wo TIN wala hai? Doosra hai ki ek hi centralize nahi hona chahiye… mera kehna ka yeh hai ki ek hi firm ka nahi… kam se kam teen… hyunki usme dikkat centralize me jaati hai… ek se hi agar hota to centralize mein aa jaata…(Ok… so the bill will have a TIN number? The second thing is it should not be centralized. I mean, all work not by a single firm. At least there should be three… because there is a problem if it is centralized. If it is from one, it will be centralized).”

Arun Kumar explains why he wants the billing to be done by three fictitious firms. “Ek school mein maan lo ek uska … ek uska kar ke alag alag school mein teen ka kam se kam…usko centralize nahi maana jayega aur teen jagah se kaam hoga… ek jagah… centralize maana jayega phir karwahi hai…(One school in that …one school in this… like this at least on three. That will not be considered centralized and work will be divided into three. If it’s at one place then it will be centralized and there can be inspection on it).”

When the correspondent asks him whether senior officials also get a cut in the deals, Arun Kumar says: “Jaate hai lekin wo aisa hai dekho upar wale neeche wale sab chahte hai… kaam bhi ho aur jo khana (purti) uddesh hai uska bhi ullanghan na ho…usme centralize nahi maana jaata… ek hi maal lo… ek hi… pura ek hi bill sab jagah lage to wo to swyam hi siddh ho gaya ki centralize nahi hai…(It goes… see from top to bottom everybody wants it. The work should also be done and all formalities should be adhered to. That will not be considered centralized. If it is on a single bill then it will be automatically be centralised).”

Later, Arun Kumar asks the correspondent to contact him after a couple of weeks when the government money will come for the uniforms. Arun Kumar also tells the correspondent that many other suppliers have contacted him for supplying school uniforms. He says that he will take commission only when the job is done. He says: “Order ki supply ke baad (after the order is supplied).” But he wants his cut in cash and not in cheque.

Cobrapost, had later contact Arun Kumar to get his reaction before publication, where he too did not remember the meeting but told that he would call back later. However Cobrapost tried to reach him several times later but there was no response from him.

The Cobrapost correspondent also meets Madhulika Bajpayee, Block Education Officer of Navasta, Kanpur. Bajpayee, too is more interested in her share of commission.

She talks at length regarding the laws of the land in this regard but as soon as the correspondent talks of commission, she forget the legalities. Bajpayee even asks for an advance of the commission. When asked about the mode of payment, she says: “Payment ka mode yeh hai ki quotation yeh jo jai le aate hai jo firm hai teen, unke quotation li aapse… phir aadesh de diya kray…order de diya banwayi jab…payment hota hai… by cheque hota hai…cash nahi hoga…(The mode of payment shall be… quotation we bring say for three…we take it from you… then we give purchase order… when it is ready…the payment is made…it is through cheque and not by cash).”

So to get the orders, a supplier can submit three quotations of which two will be fake and priced higher. The third will be from the ‘real’ supplier and it will be quoted at a lower price than the others, on which Bajpayee will give the purchase orders.

The correspondent asks Bajpayee that if the uniforms are supplied at say Rs. 165 each, then how will the rest of the commission be given to the beneficiaries. Bajpayee replies: “Cheque nahi… in sab me cheque ka koi madhyam nahi hota… cash… yeh hota hai ki aap pehle bhi uska advance thoda jo hai dete hai… baad mein jab aapka sab ho jaata hai … phir karte hai (Not cheque… there is nothing like a cheque in all such transactions. Cash… what happens is you pay some amount in advance… later when it is done rest is paid…)”. So she needs an advance of the commission.

However when we reached her again with our real identity that he was a journalist, she failed to remember anything at all about the meeting we had earlier and said, “meney aysa kaha kaha hai aap baytaiye na?… hamey tho kuch yaad hi nahi aa raha hai tho! ” (when did I say anything like that you tell me. I can’t remember anything.)

Hizbullah goes to Seembhawali in Hapur district. Here he meets Block Education Officer Ajay Kumar. The correspondent tells Kumar that he will charge Rs. 130 per school uniform, after which Kumar can sell each uniform at whatever rate he wants. Hearing this, Kumar comes up with an astounding revelation. He says: “Teacher ka jaata hi hai… 30 rupayee baccha… yeh batao aap… 30 rupayee baccha yaha teacher leta hai (Teacher has his cut. 30 rupees per child. You tell us… Teacher takes Rs. 30 per child).” Ajay Kumar makes it clear that to strike a deal at his school, the correspondent will have to pay Rs. 30 for each dress to the teacher.

The correspondent assures Ajay Kumar that the interest of the teachers will be kept in mind. What about his own cut from the deal? Kumar says: “Yeh to pehle se tai hai… Yahan Kaun sa itne lambe chaure kaam ke Black aur White ho jaye… aisi koi samasya nahi hai (This is already decided. This is not the place where we deal in heavy black and white money… Here there is no problem).”

Ajay Kumar assures the correspondent of all help. He says: “Chalo baat kar ke batata hu phir main apko jaisi sthiti hogi next time… abhi to paise bhi transfer nahi huye (I will talk to them and inform you next time whatever the situation is… as even the money has not been transferred yet).”

To know about the Block Education Officer’s modus operandi, the correspondent tells Ajay Kumar that if he wants — after the payment is made from their side — the correspondent will issue a cheque of commission for Kumar and other teachers. Kumar turns down the proposal and says: “Nahi woh cash hi rehne do. Next week aa jaana. Phone kar ke aana (No. Let it be in cash only. Come next week after making a phone call).”

Later when our correspondent called back Ajay Kumar to get his version before publication, his reactions were somewhat like this,” hum to yahan se transfer ho chukka mera main ab yahan pe nahi hun… main Bijnor hun “. ( I have been transferred from there…I no longer stay there….im in Bijnor.) However when Cobrapost revealed their dentity, his reaction was like, “ sir aisa hai na to mri koi baat hui hai kabi na to mai le rha hun baat khatm “. ( sir the thing is that neither have I ever spoken to you nor will I take anything. End of discussion.)

After Ajay Kumar, the Cobrapost correspondent meets Nahida Begum, Block Education Officer of Bidhanu in Kanpur District. Nahida Begum seems to be an expert in such dealings. She tells the correspondent about the ways in which such contracts are awarded.

“Toh bill wagaira kaise doge? (How will you arrange the bills etc.?),” asks Nahida Begum. The correspondent tells her in whatever way she prefers. Nahida Begum says: “Humko tailor ka alag chahiye… kapde ka alag… bhai ek school ka hoga maniye to usme 100 bacche huye to 100 ko mano dress gayi… to uske hosaab se aap kapde ko calculate karenge… usi hosaab se uski silaii… usko 2 tukde mein karenge na… kyunki kapde ka alag… halaki wo hoti nahi magar jabardasti wo badhaya jaata hai… matbal wo aisa kar leete hai ki poora set humne 50 rupayee me sila liya… 150 rupayee ka kapda ho gaya… kuch is average se le ke… do tukdo mein is tarah se bat te hai yeh (I need different for the tailor… different (bill) for cloth if it is for one school suppose there are 100 children then dress will be for 100. We will calculate [expenditure on] cloth according to that. Same procedure for stitching… average will be calculated…divide it into two segments like this)”.

She goes on to say that local politicians and gram pradhans (village heads) are also involved in the scam. She says that commissions are paid to officials from the top to bottom, including school headmasters.

Nahida Begum also enlightens the reporter about uniforms which were supplied earlier. She says: “Humko maloom hai ki aap kisi bacche ka bhi nahi le sakte ho… wo sirf kehne ke liye naap hoti hai… us dhang se agar naap liya jaaye… wo number aa jaata hai… unhone daal diya ki itne bacche hai hamare… 30 number par aa gaye…itne 28 pe aa gaye… itne 32 pe aa gaye… (We know that you can’t take measurement of each and every child. That is only to say. If you take measurement (on an average) … Some can fit in size 30… some in 28… while some in 32. Like this)”.

When the correspondent asks Nahida Begum how much money will she get out of the commission, she says: “Hum logo ko 10 bach jaye bahut badi baat hai… aap 20 ki baat karte hai… 30 to pura chala jaata hai wahi..30 to chala jaata hai SMC pradhan Headmaster ko… BRC hote hai… coordinator hote hai…BSA bhi hote hai… un sabko dena padta hai… Bahut lambi chain hoti hai… (If you can save Rs. 10 for us it is enough… and you are talking about Rs. 20-30 will be going there straight…to SMC, Pradhan and the headmaster… there are BRC as well, then there are coordinators, BSAs.. all have to be paid… the chain is very long).”

However when Cobrapost Correspondent contacted Nahida Begum for her reaction and revealed that he was a journalist to she replied, “humey tho kuch yaad nahi aa raha…kaab baat hui hamari?hamey tho yaad bhi nahi aa raha ki aap aye they.” (I cannot remember anything…when did we speak? I just cannot rememberanything at all.)
Continuing his investigation, Cobrapost’s Hizbullah meets Mithilesh Yadav, Block Education Officer of Prem Nagar, Kanpur, and tells him that he wants to get the tender for supplying school uniforms. Mithilesh Yadav replies that he cannot ensure the contract for all the schools in the block but will certainly clinch a deal with at least ten schools.

While the government is paying Rs. 200 per school uniform, Mithilesh Yadav readily accepts an offer for Rs. 165 per uniform. The remaining Rs. 35 for each uniform will be paid as commission. He says that officials in the department promote uniform suppliers. He says: “Hamara ek babu hai uska bhi apna koi dress supplier hai… uska bhai aise karwa deete hai sirf yeh hai 10-5 school aapko dilwa sakte hai… hamari aapko jis tarah ki madad ki awashyakta hai… humko batao (One of our officials also has a dress supplier…we can do it like this we can get you five-10 schools. Whatever help you require… just tell me).”

While talking about the mode of payment, Mithilesh Yadav says: “Payment toh teacher cheque dete hai abhi to 80 per cent aaya paisa 20 percent to wo pichli baar bhi baad mein aaya tha (Payment is… teacher gives the cheque… only 80 per cent of the grant has arrived and the rest 20 per cent… even last year the grant came in late).” Yadav tells the correspondent that even if he gets the work, there might be delay in the payments as the government holds back a certain amount for some time. But one thing that Mithilesh Yadav does not forget is his cut. He says: “Cheque jo aate hai… wo 200 ke hisaab se aate hai… 200 ke hisaab se aapko pura cheque de deenge… wo aapko unko… hum logo ko to cash se hi doge… cheque se kaise doge aap … nahi cheque se nahi… cheque koi lega hi nahi… cheque kyun lega aap batao? (The cheque comes for Rs. 200. We give you cheque for Rs. 200 each… and then you have to pay them and us in cash… how can you pay by cheque? No one will accept cheque… why will they take a cheque, can you tell?).”

When spoken to, later, Mrs. Yadav remembered the meeting and as we revelaed that he was a journalist she said, “Commission kuch nahi hai…100 200 rupay meh kya commission boliye?” ( there is no such commission… what commission will we get out of rs 100-200? Tell me?)
Next in the line of our investigation was Dr . Jayveer. Singh, District Co-ordinator Baghpat. Jayveer told us that he will help the reporter to get contract for 2-3 blocks. What he demanded for his services was Rs 50 per dress.

While talking to the reporter Jayveer says: “ 99416 bacche hai jisme lagbhag 60-70 hazaar hamara hai… usme hum 75 percent dhanrashi … 25 percent ke baad jaise iska satyapan ho jayega… 25 phir raise kar deenge… aapko hum 2-3 block dilwa deenge…(there are 99416 children here of which almost 60-70 thousand are ours. In after that… I will get you 2 or 3 blocks).”

The reporter then enquired about the payments made last time for the dresses. Regarding the uniforms for the girls, Jayveer says: “ uska kam tha shayad 280 ke karib tha… 40 hazaar ke kareeb bacche ho jayenge… ek crore 60 lakh ka kaam ho jayega.(He quoted less.I think it was around Rs. 280. there will be around 40 thousand children. The entire job will bearound Rs.1 Crore 60 Lakh).”

Jayveer informs us that there are other senior officials include the District Magistrate who are direct beneficiaries of the scam money. He says: “ 47 adhikari janpad me… to agar waha zara sa bhi mamla ho jata hai to daal dete hai ki silai kharab … kapda kharab… likh dete hai… kaun sochta hai seedhe seedhe inki jeb mein daal ke chala gaya… lekin aisa nahi hai… bahut hi upar se neeche tak ka mamla hai… BSA bhi…wo log upar tak jaata hai… ( There are around 47officials in the district. So if anything goes wrong then they accuse of poor stitching or poor material etc.People think that only filling up pockets is enough. But it is not like that. The matter flows from top to bottom. Including the BSA. It has to reach the top)”

Is the DM aware of the flow of money against the contracts? and does he also get a cut ? aks the reporter. Jayveer replies: “ Bina uske kahe to file nahi chalti… pichli baar DM sahab wo the… Amrit Tripathi… 11 baje ek vidyalay tha waha nirikshan ke liye bheja shiksha adhikariyo ne keh diya ki nahi bati…to waha gaye hum to dekha sala bulwaliya raat me… DDO kehne lage saale ke itni laathi marunga matlab chaura kar doonga tujhe.. (Files do not move without his concent. Last time the DM was Amrit Tripathi. He sent us for a surprise inspection at 11. Education officers told her that dresses were not distributed. He immediately convened a meeting at night. DDO said that the people will get thrashed as the dresses were not distributed)”.

Jayveer too asks for advance payment for himself. Without giving a second thought Jayveer says: “Maan ke chalo 50 adhikari lage huye hai… wo payment hame pehle karna padta hai… (There are about 50 officials. That payment we will have to do in advance).”
To re-confirm, the reporter asks him what amount exactly is to be paid per uniform to Jayveer. He says: “ 2 dress pe 110 rupaye ( Rs.110 on 2 dresses).”

However when our correspondent spoke to him later for his version, not only did he remember everything but also confirmed and promised us to fix a deal for us with the already decided commission rate. But as Cobrapost revealed its identity he cut the call.

Next in line is S.K. Karadu, district Education Coordinator of Gautam Buddh Nagar. Eager for his cut, Kiradu agrees to recommend the ‘supplier’ to officials. Kiradu says: “Schoolon mein jaiye… main aapse sampark karunga tender ki karwahi jo hogi… usme aapko inform kar doonga… list wagaira sab main help… kisi ko batane ki zaroorat nahi hai… main aapki poori help kar doonga… mera number note kar lo… (We will go to the schools. I will contact you when the tender process is on. I will help you with the list. You don’t need to tell anybody… I will give you all possible help. You take my number).”

Karadu will be more than happy to help an unknown uniform supplier, manipulate the contract process and share all information if his interest is respected. He says: “Aap nishchint rahiye… pareshan hone ki zaroorat nahi… kaam kariye bas school o me jaakar apna network banaiye… jaha dikkat aaye mujhe bata dijiye… yaha jo information hai main aapse share karta rahunga…aapka kaam chalta rahega. (Don’t be worried. There is no need to worry. You do your job. Go to the schools and concentrate on the networking. If you have any problem just tell me. Whateverthe information I will have here, I will share with you. Your work will progress).”

Though Karadu doesn’t quote his price, he talks about the teachers’ cuts. He says: “Mere khyal se 20-30 rupaye hota hai inka per dress (I think it is Rs. 20-30 on each dress for them).
Karadu also asks the correspondent not to involve the Basik Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) in the deal. He Karadu says: “Dekhiye silent kaam jitna karenge utna success zyada hoga… jitna aap jaal phailainge to sab ke muh khulenge… wo khulta hai… agar BSA ko dena hai to mujhe na dijiye direct BSA ko dijiye… BSA ko dena hai to direct dijiye (See, if you do it silently then you will attain greater success. If you spread the web then everybody will pounce on you (for money). If you give it to the BSA then don’t give anything to me. If you give to BSA then give him directly).”

Although later when Cobrapost tried to contact Karadu for his reaction but his phone was unreachable.

However, not all Block Education Officers are corrupt. In Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bhuwan Prakash , Block Education Officer of Dadri turned down the offer for a cut in exchange of the deal.

Bhuwan Prakash told our ‘supplier’: “Jo Bhi aapki quality hai wo quality maintain rahe… aur is cheez ko chor dena ji ki mujhe pradhanadyapak ko kuch dena hai aapko kuch aur dena hai…kisi aur ko kuch dena hai… mere yaha agar aap kaam karo ge to quality basis pe karna … ispe mat karna ki mujhe kuch chahiye (Whatever your quality is you will have to maintain that. And you should forget that you will have to pay the principal and me or anybody else on that matter. If you work over here then you will have to do it on quality basis. Don’t do it as if I want anything from you). ”

Lastly when we revealed ourselves to him that he was a journalist, the kind man said, “hamara kaam karne ka tarika bhi different hai ek dam logo se thik hai na to yahi chiz hai ham dekhte bhi hai kaam itna achha ho ki log ye kahen ki wahan kaam achha hua hai.” (we have a different way of working and we see to that the work is done so good that people say; yes they have done something good.)