The Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission decided on Monday to conduct a retest of the general studies first paper in the provincial civil services preliminary examination following a question leak on WhatsApp that triggered statewide protests.
Sources said around 4.5 lakh candidates, who had appeared in the examination across the state, would be eligible to write the paper again on May 10, the rescheduled date.
Police arrested three men, including two teachers, for taking photographs of the question paper at Adarsh Bharti Vidayala in Lucknow an hour before the test on Sunday and circulating the photos on the popular instant messaging service.
A police officer said violent protests broke out as news of the leak got out while the first shift of the preliminary exams, held between 9.30am and 11.30am, was underway. The protesters demanded removal of board chairman Anil Yadav, who has been accused of initially denying the incident.
The Samajwadi Party government acted swiftly after a preliminary report of the special task force of Uttar Pradesh Police exposed the leak. “The examination has been cancelled on chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s directive,” the police officer said.
Opposition parties demanded a CBI probe and dismissal of the UPPSC chief, who was in the eye of a storm in 2013 when the board introduced a controversial caste-based reservation policy. It had to be scrapped following violent agitations and petitions in the Allahabad High Court, prompting the Samajwadi Party government to distance itself from the UPPSC action.
The decision for a retest was taken after UPPSC chief Yadav and secretary Rizwan-ur-Rehman held a meeting to discuss measures to restore confidence among the miffed aspirants.
The commission had scoffed at news of the leak as rumour on Sunday evening. “We did not get any reports of a question paper leak,” the UPPSC secretary said, his comments adding fuel to the surcharged atmosphere as people accused the board of trying a cover-up job.