A year after engg exam scam at Mumbai university, trial is yet to begin
The police said that the students whose answer sheets were smuggled out of the store room at Kalina would be made witnesses.mumbai Updated: May 05, 2017 00:50 IST
Almost a year after a cheating scam rocked University of Mumbai (MU) and 10 months after a charge sheet was filed, the trial of 18 men who were arrested for allegedly tampering with engineering exam papers is yet to begin.
These men include MU employees — a security supervisor, peons and clerks — agents and former students who wanted to make easy money.
The police said that the students whose answer sheets were smuggled out of the store room at Kalina would be made witnesses.
“We recovered 100 answer sheets and Rs1.18 lakh in the scam,” said Shripad Kale, senior police inspector, Bhandup police station.
According to the police, the student were asked by agents to leave blank spaces in their answer sheets to be filled in later.
After getting hall ticket numbers, the MU employees would smuggle out answer sheets for respective students. After writing the answers, the students handed the sheets back to the MU employees, who took them back to the university’s store room at Kalina.
The first arrest was made on May 20 last year when a team of the Mumbai police picked up Manoj Shingade, 22, a student who was found in possession of an engineering exam answer sheet. The police detained and frisked him in front of two independent witnesses. His interrogation led to the other suspects.
The exam was held nine days before he was picked up. The answer sheet contained all details such as the candidate’s seat number and date stamp. Shingade was allegedly smuggling the modified answer sheet back to the university.
The police questioned several students and university staff. The scam exposed the nexus between agents and university staff who would scout for vulnerable students, mostly with allowed to keep term. “Students feared that they may lose an entire year and hence fell in to the trap. Students used to approach agent through word of mouth. The agents would brag about their ability to ensure that students would not fail,” said Kale.
Even the prices were decided on the capability of students to pay up. Students paid from Rs2,000 to Rs15,000. If there were agents involved in a particular deal, the MU employees earned less, police said.
The police, however, did not name students whose answer sheets were found as accused.
The police had to be careful in handling the case as students were directly involved. Investigations also pointed out that staff were hired on a contract basis and were paid relatively low wages.
Course correction promises still unfulfilled
A day after the first arrests in the engineering scam on May 20 last year, University of Mumbai (MU) set up a fact-finding committee to prevent cheating and tampering during and after examinations. The committee, among others, suggested that MU needed to install CCTV cameras and monitor entry and exit of its employees. But months after the recommendations, very little seems to have changed.
At the time, the MU also promised a foolproof security for examination building in Kalina. Ironically, these promises are still work in progress. “The new examination house should be ready in the next couple of months. All other requirement such as CCTV cameras and biometric entry and exit of employees will follow later,” said MA Khan, registrar, MU.
The examination house in Kalina has two separate buildings: Jyotiba Phule building has 20 CCTV cameras while the second building, Ambedkar Bhavan, has none. Ambedkar Bhavan is where all answer booklets are corrected and moderated.
“The process to install CCTV cameras is still pending despite floating tenders and receiving fund approvals from the central government,” said an official from the examination house.
In a series of meetings held in 2016, MU vice-chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh had promised many security measures. However, the only change introduced to the examination house is frisking of bags of subject examiners and moderators.
Members of the Bombay University College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) have repeatedly questioned the vice chancellor about his “false promises”. (With inputs from Shreya Bhandary