Jaipur: Of the 9,872 sarpanches who were elected in January's civic polls in Rajasthan, 746 are now being accused of submitting fake certificates to circumvent a new ordinance that made Class 8 a minimum educational requirement for the post. Investigations have also revealed that one particular government school issued 100 fake mark sheets, out of which 35 went to candidates who got elected.
FIRs have been filed against 479 sarpanches, or village heads, for submitting fake certificates to prove that they had passed Class 8.
In Dausa District's Hingota for instance, the recently elected sarpanch, Mamta Kumari is absconding. Her campaign posters are now part of the evidence against her in the investigation against her for submitting a fake mark sheet that claimed she had passed her Class 8.
The government had set up a special cell to look into the fake marksheet scam. The sarpanch of Badoli Village in Tonk District, Shimla Devi Meena, became the first person to be arrested in the scam for presenting a fake marksheet.
"The TC (transfer certificate) and the marksheet were from Kota. We got in touch with the Kota District Education Officer and also went there for investigation. When we went to the Herbert Children's School, we found she had not been issued a certificate from there," said Bhagwan Sahay Sharma, the investigating officer of the special cell.
The Rajasthan government has said it would follow through on the FIRs that have been filed. "Rajasthan tried to change the way grass roots democracy works, and for that we enforced an educational criteria now where thousands of people were elected," said Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria. "I don't think there are more than six to seven hundred such cases in all," he added.
The Rajasthan government's ordinance had excluded almost half of the rural population, who are illiterate, from contesting the civic polls. The move had come in for criticism and challenged in court as well. But the government is now left dealing with those who found ways to circumvent its ordinance.