CBSE paper leak sparks political storm, Delhi Police quiz 34 suspects
A day after the CBSE announced the retest of Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics papers, police said they suspect that the handwritten copies of the question papers had been put together in Delhi.Updated: Mar 30, 2018 15:17 IST
Investigations on Thursday pointed to the national Capital emerging at the centre of an exam paper leak that forced the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to order two retests for 2.2 million Class X and Class XII students nationwide and in select overseas locations, sparking outrage among students and parents and turning into a political slugfest between the Congress and the government.
Delhi Police said it had questioned at least 34 people, including an economics teacher at a private school in central Delhi and a coaching centre owner, one day after the CBSE said all 1.7 million students of Class 10 who took the mathematics exam on March 28 and 500,000 who sat for the economics exam on March 26, will have to take them again, admitting that the question papers had leaked in advance.
Although no arrests had been made until Thursday evening, the police said it had sought from CBSE details of all the paper-setters and places where the question papers had been stored to trace the source of the leak.
Although the paper was leaked across the country and abroad where the exams take place through the messaging platform WhatsApp, police suspect that the handwritten copies of the question papers had been put together in Delhi.
The board is likely to announce the retest dates on Monday. CBSE officials privy to the matter said that they had received calls and emails from students and parents, especially from across 200 CBSE schools abroad, asking them to hold the retests only in the areas where the leaks were reported.
“We have received a number of emails, texts from stakeholders for conducting the retest only in those areas where the leak took place, including from Delhi. If we get specific inputs from Delhi police on the exact locations regarding the leak, we will examine that aspect,” said a CBSE official on condition of anonymity, when asked if other states were in touch with the board.
All the people interrogated since the first of the two FIRs was registered on March 27 are Delhi residents. HT is withholding the names of the private school economics teacher and coaching centre owner who were questioned, and those of their institutes because the police said their role is still being investigated.
Accusing the Centre of doing little to check malpractices in the examination system, the Congress asked why the previous CBSE chairperson RK Chaturvedi had been replaced last year even though his term was supposed to end in 2020. “Why did the HRD Minister cut short the tenure of previous CBSE chairperson to replace him nidway through his tenure,” asked Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
He also asked the reasons why the practice of having different questions across three sets of paper in each exam last year had been done away with and demanded an independent inquiry into the leak.
Minister of human resource development Prakash Javadekar said people behind the leaks will not be spared as the opposition Congress party demanded his removal and the sacking of CBSE chairperson Anita Karwal.
“The interest of the students is the prime concern for us. All our decisions are being taken keeping them in mind. We will announce dates very soon after taking due care about dates of other exams. We are working 24x7 to ensure that interests of students are best taken care of. We are confident that the culprits will be caught,” Karwal told HT.
The Board has sent four complaints to the police between March 15, when rumours of class 12 accountancy paper leak started, and March 28. “The police are already on the job and just like they nabbed four people in the SSC (Staff Selection Commission) scam, I am sure it will soon catch the culprits in this case too,” Javadekar said. “Being a parent myself, I can understand the concerns and anxiety of other parents as well as that of students. Not just the students, even I could not sleep the whole night yesterday.”
On Thursday morning, Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “The exam leaks destroy the hopes and futures of millions of students. The Congress always protected our institutions. This is what happens when institutions are destroyed by the RSS/BJP (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh/Bharatiya Janata Party). Believe me when I say, this is only the beginning,” he tweeted.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also demanded strict action against those responsible for the leaks. “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.
Some schoolchildren, who were joined by college students, gathered at Jantar Mantarin the city centre on Thursday morning to protest the leaks and demand the re-conduct of all exams or none. “Almost all the papers have been leaked. We have studied all night, but for what reason? They should either reconduct all the exams or none. The CBSE is just doing a token action, by reconducting just two exams,” said Paras Malhotra, a class 12 student of Dr SRS Mission School, Janakpuri
Some others, like Smridhi Chaddha, a class 12 student of Carmel Convent School, Chanakyapuri, pointed out that some students like herself were preparing for entrance tests, and were worried about the retests clashing with those dates.