24 or 42? Bihar Class 12 arts topper held after row over age, music knowledge
The Bihar board’s arts stream topper was arrested and his result cancelled after allegations of fraud on Friday, a development that put the spotlight back on the state’s notorious education system that has often been hit by cheating scandals.
Last year’s arts topper Ruby Rai had landed in a controversy after it was found that she did not know what political science was. Rai and three other disgraced toppers of Bihar’s Class 12 exams were later arrested, resulting in the uncovering of an examination racket that fixed results in exchange for cash.
This year, Ganesh Kumar, a student of RNSJN Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya in Samastipur, was declared the topper of Class 12 examination from arts stream. Kumar, who secured 82.6%, allegedly fudged his age.
BSEB chairman Anand Kishor said Kumar’s age was 42 years but he had declared it as 24. “We have decided to lodge an FIR against him and he will be arrested soon. His result and candidature stands suspended,” Kishor said before the arrest.
Kumar was picked up from the Bihar School Examination Board office after the complaint, Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaj said.
The BSEB also sent a showcause notice to Kumar, asking him to explain his conduct within three days.
Neha Kumari of LNGRS Plus Two Girl’s School of Rajnagar, Madhubani, is now likely to be elevated as the topper. She has secured 80.6% marks.
Kumar denied any wrongdoing.
Kumar faced criticism after it emerged that he didn’t know the difference between prose and poetry. To Kumar, who also topped music, the difference between “sur” (notes) and “taal” (meter) was whether one spoke loudly or softly.
Kumar’s marksheet showed he scored 92 in Hindi, 78 in the second language, 83 in music, 80 in history, 80 in social studies and 59 in psychology.
After criticism, the Bihar government and the BSEB had rubbished the allegations and said there was no evidence of irregularities in the state board results.
“Why are you being so negative? There is no topper scam,” state education minister Ashok Choudhary had said.
Of the 12.40 lakh students who took the Class 12 examination conducted by the BSEB this year just 4.37 lakh, or 35.25%, managed to clear the board exam. Last year, 11.55 lakh students had appeared in the exam and 7.18 lakh, or 62.19%, cleared it.
(With agency inputs)