Congress MP K Suresh on Friday said that the scrapping of the Maulana Azad National Fellowship scheme is against the minorities as the decision will make higher education inaccessible to underprivileged students, PTI reported.

“The move is an insult to Maulana Azad,” he said during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha. “It also disregards all the freedom fighters and their memories of sacrifice.”

The Maulana Azad National Fellowship was launched in 2009. It provided financial assistance to students from six notified minority communities – Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs – to pursue MPhil and PhD.

The scheme was launched as part of measures to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, which studied the socio-economic condition of Muslims in India.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani had told the Lok Sabha on December 9 that the decision was made as the fellowship overlapped with other schemes.

She had also said that the government provides fellowship for higher education through various schemes.

“All these Schemes, except MANF [Maulana Azad National Fellowship], are open for candidates of all communities including minorities but the data of fellowship distributed among minority students is captured only under the MANF scheme,” Irani had said.

On Friday, Suresh said that Irani’s reason was an excuse that defies logic as any overlap could have been identified from the Aadhaar and other documents of the students who enrol for the fellowship.

“The anti-minority sentiments behind the (government’s) decision is evident,” he said.