CBSE fiasco: Jharkhand arrests point to wider maths paper leak

New Delhi, Hindustan Times | ByHT Correspondents
Mar 31, 2018 11:50 PM IST

After CBSE re-exam controversy, investigators are probing a maze of WhatsApp messages and email trails to track down the masterminds behind paper leaks.

A Jharkhand student received the Class 10 mathematics question paper on WhatsApp a day before the exams, police said on Saturday, punching a hole in the theory advanced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the central government that the leak was restricted to Delhi, the National Capital Region (NCR) and Haryana.

Students protest against alleged paper leak outside the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) office at Preet Vihar in New Delhi on Saturday.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Students protest against alleged paper leak outside the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) office at Preet Vihar in New Delhi on Saturday.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

As investigators continued to probe a maze of WhatsApp messages and email trails, fresh protests erupted in Delhi, with parents and students mounting pressure on the CBSE over the leak of the Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics papers.

The superintendent of police in Jharkhand’s Chatra, Akhilesh B Verior, said the student received the handwritten question paper from another student in Bihar on March 27. The paper had the questions in the same sequence as they appeared in the official paper distributed the next day.

The student got the paper solved by a mathematics teacher identified as Amesh, who uses only his first name, working with a private coaching institute called Study Vision. Amesh and two owners of the institute – Satish Pandey and Pankaj Singh—sold the questions for 500 to 5,000.

The trio has been arrested. At least nine students were detained and produced before the Juvenile Justice Board here, the police said.

“We have not been able to establish any Delhi link in the mathematics paper leak. The electronic surveillance, however, has established that two students from Bihar were involved in the transfer of the question paper to Jharkhand,” Verior said.

The paper leaks have triggered a political slugfest with the opposition accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre of incompetence.

On Saturday, a student from Kerala approached the Supreme Court , challenging the CBSE’s proposal to hold a Class 10 mathematics retest. The government has already said the re-exam, if it needs to be conducted at all, will be restricted to students of Delhi, Haryana and the NCR.

The Class 12 economics retest will be held again nationwide on April 25.

In Delhi, Special Investigating Team (SIT) officials said they were yet to identify the people responsible for the leaks. SIT has questioned more than 60 people, including students, teachers and tutors in the past four days.

A senior official said Google responded to its queries and shared details of the purported whistleblower who had mailed the CBSE chairperson about the leak with an attached copy of the question paper. SIT officials contacted this person at his west Delhi home on Saturday afternoon.

In his statement, the whistleblower claimed he received the ‘leaked’ papers on WhatsApp. Police have also identified the person who forwarded the papers to him.

“His questioning has led us to another WhatsApp group on which the papers were circulated. Apart from the six WhatsApp groups we were already looking into, our teams will now question the members of the seventh group as well,” said RP Upadhyay, special commissioner of police (crime).

He said that keeping in view the extensive investigation, two more assistant commissioners of police (ACPs) have been added to SIT, which now has two deputy commissioners of police and six assistant commissioners of police.

Joint commissioner of police (crime), Alok Kumar, who is supervising the SIT, said the questionings were leading them from one person to another, with the chain of links running into thousands.

A police officer privy to the probe said the investigation has now widened beyond Delhi and NCR and teams are likely to be sent to other states, including Jharkhand.

On Saturday, a group of students turned up at the CBSE office in Preet Vihar, demanding cancellation of the economics retest. Alleging that more papers had been leaked, they demanded a retest in all subjects or none.

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