Subroto Roy/Mohsin Mulla - DNA
Pune/Kolhapur, May 23: Shridhar Kambale has been making headlines for the last one month after he claimed to have won a Nasa scholarship. But DNA has learnt that the 17-year-old from Kolhapur has taken everybody for a ride, including his teachers, a senior scientist and the Maharashtra government, which has announced a grant of $80,400 so that he could “pursue his studies” in the US.
DNA has found that the letter Shridhar cited as an invitation from the National Aeronautical Space Association (Nasa) to take part in its programme is forged, and has several discrepancies and mistakes. In an e-mailed reply to a DNA query, Nasa revealed that the letter was signed by a non-existent official.
Also, Shridhar’s college teacher says the boy forged his signature on a recommendation letter. A scientist, who also wrote him a letter, now has doubts about the class XII student’s credentials.
Kambale claimed he has been selected as a Junior Space Scientist by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and is required to report there by August 2008 to participate in a programme termed ‘Galaxy Evolution Explorer’. He claimed to have secured admission to a BSc programme at University of Colorado, Boulder, besides having won a Nasa scholarship.
DNA has found that the Nasa papers that Shridhar produced are forged. The letter is undersigned by Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) chief scientist “Dan McGreech”. However, Veronica McGregor, JPL’s media relations manager, in her email to DNA, said: “There is no one by that name at JPL.” “The name of our chief scientist is similar, but it is Dan McCleese. I will check with him to see if he knows anything about the purported letter from him.” To substantiate his claim, Shridhar has also been brandishing letters from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, and HRD ministry.
Presenting himself as a poor farmer’s son in need of money to study in the US, Shridhar has won the sympathy of many volunteers and organisations who have donated substantial amounts to him.