It is just like taking a leaf out of a Bollywood movie, the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination impersonation scam has branched all over the country taking in its purview not only the students or the match-makers but the board as well.
"It is very hard to say who is actually the master-mind of the whole racket. We have only touched the tip of the ice berg. We don't know how many people are actually involved in this murky plot" Deputy Commissioner of Police Detective Department, Kolkata, Ajoy Kumar said.
So far, in the last nine days the sleuths of the detective department of the city police have arrested 14 people in connection with the WBJEE (Medical) impersonation case. The arrests include the suspected racketeers, the students, the dummy candidates and the linkmen.
"The modus operandi of the racket is unique. Initially the admit cards of the students were collected. Then medical students from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were selected to appear for the exams. Similarly medical students and medical officers from the city were sent to other states like Karnataka to impersonate as candidates in exmainations held there. The photographs in the admit cards were switched to avoid detection" Kumar said.
The entire racket came to light when the officers of the detective department, on the basis of a tip off, arrested six people including three medical students- Mihir Kuamr Jha, Ranavijay Pathak and Ayan Banerjee.
Mihir Kumar Jha, suspected by the police to be the master-mind of the whole operation is a first year radiology post graduate student of SSKM hospital. He ran an insititute 'Meditrance' and he was closely associated with Ranavijay Pathak - a final year student of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and his aide Ayan Banerjee - a first year under graduate student. The duo used to run another separate institute IMW/DAMS.
"These trio mainly used to run the racket of luring students, taking money from them, arrange dummy candidates for them and ensure them in the medical colleges of the state," Kumar said.
Pathak and Jha used to lure students by giving advertisements in the leading dailies ensuring the students admission in medical colleges and used to charge lakhs from the students.
"They used to take anything between five to eight lakhs from the students. The dummy candidates who used to give the examination for the student used to get around 50,000 and some of the cut money used to go to the linkman - the man who used to supply the candidates or the dummy examinees" said Kumar.He said that the operation, though initiated from Kolkata but it had its presence very much in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bangalore and Karnataka.
According to police this kind of irregularities cropped after the board introduced the new examination system- the objective multiple choice commonly known as MCQ.
"As students don't have to write here so the question of handwriting detection doesn't arise. Candidates can easily sit for others'examination. As this system has been introduced last year so it is very natural that this impersonation scam is very new in Bengal. The racket might have been in operation in other states but not here" said Kumar.
The city police then made series of arrests, some from the districts of the sate but surprisingly enough many more came from places like Bangalore, Varanasi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and this has forced the city cops to think that the racket has its tentacles spread all over the country.
In fact the police is not dismissing the possibiltiy of some insiders in the board being involved in the whole thing. "It is very surprising that the invigilator did not question the candidate about the forged photograph. We cannot rule out the possibility of the involvement of the invigilators in the racket" said senior police officer.
However, this inter-state corruption racket involving impersonation at the entrance examination and insertion of fake names in the merit list have left the state government shaken and brought the board under the scanner.
The state government has even asked the the Joint Entrance Board to recommend ways in making the JEE more transparent and fool proof, Higher Education Minister Sudarshan Roychowdhury had said earlier.
In fact state health minister Surya Kanta Mishra had recommended earlier to separate the medical entrance from the engineering and recommended that the medical entrance to be under the direct supervision of the health Department.