How CBSE paper leak led to re-exam after board’s denials, anonymous tips and a DU grad suspect

After dismissing paper leak reports as rumours, the CBSE admitted to leaks and ordered the re-examination of two papers — the Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics.
Students protest at Janatar Mantar on Thursday against the CBSE move to re-order examinations of the Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics papers.(Anushree Fadnavis / HT)
Students protest at Janatar Mantar on Thursday against the CBSE move to re-order examinations of the Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics papers.(Anushree Fadnavis / HT)
Updated on Mar 29, 2018 09:20 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

As hundreds of students protested in New Delhi on Thursday against the re-examination of CBSE’s class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics papers, union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar promised the “culprits would not go scot free”.

The past 24 hours, since the news broke of CBSE re-ordering the two board exams, has seen fast-paced developments — from the minister promising a new system to plug leaks and Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding action to reported Delhi Police raids and the Congress asking for Javadekar’s head.

Here’s a wrap of all that’s happened:

The rumours

On March 26, panic gripped students of Class 12 after claims that the Economics paper had been leaked.

Reports about the leak circulated on social media — including via WhatsApp — several hours before the examination began.

The CBSE denied any slip up.

Read: CBSE retests: Javadekar assures same difficulty level for Class 10 maths, Class 12 economics papers

“We have checked with all examination centres, and the paper was not leaked. The source of circulation of this information is not known yet. We want to urge the students and parents to not panic and assure them that the board is doing its best to ensure sanctity of the examination,” a senior CBSE official said.

A similar incident occurred on March 15, when the Delhi government said it had received complaints of the Class 12 CBSE Accountancy paper being leaked. A probe was ordered even though the board denied any leak.

“There has been no leakage of the question paper. All the seals have been found intact at all exam centres. However, at local level, some miscreants may have circulated messages through WhatsApp and other social media platforms to hurt the sanctity of the exam,” the board had said then.

The leak

Two days later, on March 28, the CBSE admitted to a paper leak and announced a re-examination of Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics papers.

The move — perhaps the first time in the board’s history that such wholesale retests are happening — affects 1.7 million class 10 students and 500,000 class 12 students.

The board said it would announce the dates for the retest within a week, but a senior board official speaking on condition of anonymity said they would happen after April 13, when the examinations end.

Read CBSE re-test: Who sets the questions papers, how the Board maintains confidentiality

The probe

The Delhi police crime branch on Tuesday and Wednesday registered two FIRs to probe the leaks — the one on Tuesday is connected with the leak of the Economics paper, and the one on Wednesday, with the Mathematics paper.

Police have formed two special investigation teams headed by two DCPs, four ACPs and five inspectors. Special commissioner of police (crime) RP Upadhyaya said police are probing the source of the WhatsApp messages.

“We have questioned around 25 people in the case, who are mostly students who had received the question papers over WhatsApp,” he said.

Read: CBSE paper leak: When education system fails, we fail our children

Jantar Mantar protest

Holding placards with slogans like ‘Stop playing hit and trial with our lives’ and ‘It’s not the students who need a retest, it’s the system’, hundreds of students protested at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Thursday against the re-examination.

They said they have been left “traumatized”.

Bhavika Yadav, a Class 10 student of St Thomas School, said, “We were shocked after hearing the news of the re-examination. Why should we suffer just because a handful of students got the leaked paper before the examination?”

Read: CBSE board exams cancelled: Students across India say retests ‘unfair, discouraging’

The CBSE complaint

The CBSE office received an unaddressed envelope on March 26 containing four sheets of handwritten answers of the Class 12 Economics paper, the Board said in its complaint to the Delhi Police.

It said they received a complaint by fax on March 23 from an “unknown source” that a man running a coaching institute in Rajinder Nagar, a western suburb of Delhi, was involved in the leak.

The complaint also named two schools in Rajinder Nagar for their involvement in the incident.

DU graduate a suspect

The Delhi Police on Thursday questioned the owner of a coaching centre in Rajinder Nagar whose name was shared by the CBSE in their complaint. He is suspected to be behind the leak of the Class 12 economics paper.

The owner of the coaching centre, a Delhi University graduate, used to teach mathematics and economics. He is one of the main suspects, said an official privy to the probe.

Javadekar promises action

Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, who said he could sleep last night, termed the paper leak issue “unfortunate” and promised the culprits would not go scot-free.

Yesterday, addressing the media, he said a new system would be put in place from Monday to ensure no leaks take place and the government would ensure that there is no injustice.

“The police is on the job and I am very sure, they will nab the culprits as they have done in case of the SSC exam leak case. We have also instituted an internal inquiry,” the minister said.

Angry Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Javadekar on Wednesday, soon after the news broke, calling for strict action against paper leaks in key board examinations, reported news agency ANI.

The PM is believed to have expressed unhappiness over reports that the question paper of these two subjects were leaked, ANI tweeted, quoting unnamed sources.

Politicking begins

Congress president took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a series of leaks, the latest being the CBSE papers, in the country.

Listing out a bunch of ‘leaks’ — data leak, Karnataka poll date leak etc — Gandhi called the “chowkidar” weak. Modi in the run-up to the 2014 general elections referred to himself as India’s chowkidar.

The Congress, at a press conference, demanded the sacking of Javadekar and the CBSE chairperson, and also called for a probe into the leak by a high court judge.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too demanded strict action against the people involved in the leak. He said responsibility should be fixed in the matter.

“I really feel sorry and sad for the students who have to give their exams again for no fault of theirs. Responsibility shud be fixed n strict action shud be taken against those responsible (sic),” Kejriwal tweeted.

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