Crooks got a hand on the English examination paper of Class 10 the evening before its distribution all over Punjab on Monday but the Punjab school education board thought it was smarter.
After failing to keep the questions confidential, it harassed students in an attempt to hide its mistake. On Sunday evening, the entire set of three English question papers for the next day leaked out in Muktsar district, and was available at some of the photostat shops in Malout. The district education officer (DEO) came to know around 10pm. The question paper was to go all over Punjab but the board suspended the examination in Muktsar district alone, that too for a few hours.
To centres in the district, the board sent a new copy of the question paper on the Internet. It forgot that if it can use technology, so can the crooks, to circulate the quiz all over the state. The board erred in assuming that the leak was contained to Muktsar. "It was a decision taken at the higher level," said DEO Davinder Kumar. Asked if the paper could have travelled outside the district, he said: "Anything is possible."
The informer that exposed this had e-mailed a scanned copy of the question paper to the DEO. Who knows if the villains also used the same trick. Anyhow, the board's attempt at damage control was non-serious. It sent scanned copies of handwritten question paper to different centers in Muktsar and told the supervising teams to get photocopies made.
Students reached the examination centres before the sechduled start at 9am, many clueless about any leak, but were made to wait for hours to get down writing. At some of the centres, the making of copies delayed the test until 2pm, for it was a task to find enough photostat machines that were idle and secure.