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The defence ministry on Wednesday trashed reports which claimed that the new Sainik Schools were allocated to institutions based on their political or ideological affiliations.

Online media platform ‘The Reporters’ Collective’ in a report claimed that the government handed over 62 per cent of the new Sainik Schools to people associated with Sangh Parivar, politicians from the BJP and its allies.

“Articles have appeared in certain sections of the press insinuating that new Sainik Schools are being allocated to institutions based on their political or ideological affiliations. Such insinuations are unfounded,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

It said a rigorous selection process was followed to finalise institutions to run the new Sainik Schools.

“The scheme for new Sainik Schools is well thought out. The selection process itself is rigorous, checks and balances have been built in to ensure continuing adherence to the objectives and strong incentives are in place to provide financial support to deserving students,” the ministry said.

“The political or ideological affiliation or otherwise of the applicant institution does not influence the selection process,” it said.

“Attempts to politicise or distort the objectives and implementation of the scheme by casting aspersions on it, are unwarranted and misleading,” the ministry added.

In the first phase, the government has initiated the scheme of setting up 100 new Sainik Schools across the country, in partnership with NGOs, state governments and private sector which are working in the education sector.

The ministry said over 500 applications have been received and scrutinised.

“As on date, approval has been accorded to 45 schools. This includes both existing schools and schools proposed to be built,” it said.

“Approval to these schools is given provisionally. Continuation of approval is based on annual inspection by the school inspection committee. Hence, the scheme provides for a continued adherence to achieving the identified standards,” it said.

In October 2021, the Union Cabinet approved the affiliation of 100 schools in government and private sectors with Sainik School Society under the Ministry of Defence.

The ministry said a strict evaluation process was followed to scrutinise the applicants.

Explaining the process, it said a school evaluation committee composed of the concerned district magistrate as chairperson and principals of nearby existing Sainik Schools/ Navodaya Vidyalayas was set up.

“Physical inspection of the applicant school and verification of the credentials is done as per laid down criteria,” it said.

“An Approval Committee which comprises the Joint Secretary (Sainik Schools Society) as chairperson, Secretary CBSE and an eminent educationist as members accord the final recommendations,” the ministry said.