The fugitive proprietor of a college in Bihar’s Vaishali who has been accused of manipulating the state board’s class 12 exam and results to produce toppers from the institution surrendered before police on Saturday afternoon.
Sources said Amit Singh aka Baccha Roy, the owner of Vishun Roy College in Vaishali’s Kairatpur, was taken to Patna by the government-appointed special investigation team for questioning.
His college produced four of the 18 toppers, including his daughter Shalini, among the first ten on the merit list in the class 12 science and arts streams this year.
Notorious for incidents of mass cheating, Bihar was engulfed in a merit muddle when the four toppers failed to answer rudimentary questions during a media interaction soon after the results were announced in May, triggering outrage that they cheated their way to the top.
Arts topper Ruby Rai, who scored 444 out of 500 marks, said political science is all about cooking while Saurav Shrestha, who topped the science stream, replied to a question that the most reactive element in the periodic table is aluminium.
Police filed a case against the college, the four students and officials of the Bihar State Examination Board (BSEB), whose chairman Lalkeshwar Singh is on the run.
Roy’s college has been charged with using unfair means in connivance with board officials and invigilators to manipulate the class 12 results year after year since 2000.
Education experts said private, unaided colleges were in the race to produce as many meritorious students as possible because the government pays Rs 5,000 to the institution for every student getting a first division of 60% of the marks, Rs 7,000 for toppers, Rs 4,000 for second division and Rs 3,000 for third division. Besides, the top spots help enhance a college’s prestige, popularity and exclusivity.
The manipulation apparently helped Roy make a fortune. “His earnings will be under the scanner of enforcement directorate and income tax officials,” a police officer said.
Roy, whose father Rajdeo started the college at Kiratpur in 1997, is an influential man for his wealth and political clout. His family runs three more educational institutions.
He was close to RJD chief Lalu Prasad and campaigned for his sons in both Raghopur and Mahua constituencies in the 2015 assembly elections. But Prasad has distanced himself from Roy. “They defamed Bihar. All of them should be arrested,” he said.
The college owner was on the run after the controversy unfolded and chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday sought a criminal investigation into possible wrongdoing in the board exam. Roy surrendered after police mounted pressure on his family.
Police said they have evidence to prove board chairman Lalkeshwar Singh’s role in the fraud. The SIT apparently found that Lalkeshwar visited the evaluation centres, where answer-scripts were checked and marks given, and ordered officials to transfer the toppers’ copies to his home.
Whiteners were used to erase serial numbers and first pages of the toppers’ copies changed to insert fresh high marks, an investigator said.
Police seized answer-scripts from Lalkeshwar’s home at Rajendranagar in Patna.
Five associates of the chairman and Roy, including two college principals, have allegedly confessed to the crime. Roy’s sister Shailaja, who was posted at the evaluation centre at GA College in Vaishali, of which she is also the principal, had been detained too.
A police search team went looking for him at his in-laws’ home at Seraikella, near Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, early on Saturday. He was not there.