The Army recruitment question papers were leaked from a printing press in Nagpur, said a police officer from the Thane crime branch.
The police also named the three accused — Nigamkumar Pandey, Dharam Singh and Ravindra Kumar — who work at the clerk-level with the Army base in Nagpur.
“We have sent a letter to the Army headquarters with the details of the accused and their role in the scam,” said Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
After the incident came to light on Sunday, the police found out that the question papers — that are sent to the examination centres in CDs with a security code — was leaked at a printing press at Nagpur. The police have sent a team to Nagpur to get the custody of the three wanted accused.
“So far we have arrested 21 people in this case and recorded details of 350 candidates. We will verify their details with the Army,” said Singh. Speaking about the accused’s modus operandi, the Thane police commissioner said that Kumar had struck a deal first in March 2016 for the question papers. His sources in the Army who leaked the papers to him had charged him Rs50 lakh for it. “At that time, seven of the 50 questions in the paper were leaked out to 50 candidates who took their exams in Bhandara and Nagpur. Of them, 48 managed to pass the exam. This time the bargain was struck at Rs1.35 crore for the question papers,” said Singh.
A police inspector from Thane crime branch said, “During interrogation we came to know that the papers were initially leaked by a Dhaklu Patil who was a clerk with the Assam Rifle regiment. He would then send the papers to arrested accused Santosh Shinde.” Shinde was responsible for distributing the leaked papers among candidates of different centres. He would operate and keep a track of his clients through WhatsApp groups, claimed the inspector.
The police also confirmed that the accused had links with 17-18 military academies and which are now under the scanner.
The inspector said, “Patil and Shinde were in constant touch regarding the developments of the paper leak.”
Patil used to run a military academy named as Shourya Academy at Phaltan which is also involved in the scam. This time 100 students from Patil’s academy were to take Army exams, said a source from the police.
The police suspect that centres across the country may have been a part of the scam. They are in the process of collecting information about the candidates and will hand it over to the Army for further investigation.