How professors and coaching centres colluded in Rajasthan’s question paper leak scam
Jaipur: Till just a few days ago, they were all well respected educationists --- some of them lecturers and professors at Rajasthan’s oldest and most prestigious educational institution and at least one the principal of a government college.
They are also the ones who brought down secrecy around examinations in the university almost to a farcical level, leaking question papers on an unprecedented scale to peers, friends, and even tenants!
The scam, which could very well be termed as the Vyapam moment of the desert state, was busted by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan police on April 17.
Since then, 19 people have been arrested, several of them senior professors of the Rajasthan University.
“It was a tipoff about question papers being leaked before exams that set the ball rolling for us. We used electronic surveillance to track conversations of a large number of individuals involved in the examination process. The results were astounding,” said inspector general (SOG) Dinesh MN.
For a friend’s son
The investigation led the SOG to RU’s Prof Govind Pareek, who gave information about the question paper of M Com (Final Year) OR & QT to NS Modi, the principal of Government College, Khajuwala in Bikaner.
“Modi wanted information about the question paper as his son Nipun was appearing for the examination. That’s why, he contacted Pareek who was preparing the question paper,” MN told HT.
However, the magnitude of free hand available to academicians in the state can be gauged from the fact that Pareek, had passed on the responsibility (of preparing the question paper) to Shambhudayal Jhalani, lecturer, SSG Pareek Girl’s College, Chomu.
Similarly, the SOG arrested Prof JP Jat, head of Geography department in Rajasthan University, for giving information about BA Geography question papers to his students and also a woman who was allegedly his tenant, two days before the exam.
Much like Modi, Jat too had procured the information about the question paper from a retired professor of the university, BL Gupta.
“During our investigation, we found that most of the arrested academics would take advantage of personal contacts or acquaintances to get information about the papers. So far, we haven’t found any monetary interest but are investigating into it,” said superintendent of police (SOG) Sanjay Shrotriya.
Coaching the wrong way
After busting the scam, the next day the SOG raided a coaching centre in Bandikui and arrested its owner CP Sindhi and two of his associates for leaking the question paper to his students just a couple of hours before the exam.
“Several officials of the Rajasthan University were also arrested in between, including deputy registrar MC Gupta and Surendra Mohan Sharma, the personal assistant to the controller of examinations,” said IG Dinesh MN.
As the number of arrests started to go up, the SOG discovered that many of these arrested professors were authors of refresher books widely read by students for preparing for the examanitions.
SOG officials say that a conflict of interest was evident from the fact that the professors would prepare the question papers from these books.
Sharad, an employee of one such publication, was arrested by the SOG for sending one such question paper to Kalicharan, a lecturer in Bhadra, Hanumangarh over WhatsApp a few days before the exam.
‘Refresher’ course to questions
Similarly, Nandlal Saini, an official from the secrecy cell of Rajasthan University who has also been arrested and RU’s Prof Ashok Agarwal is currently absconding.
“According to our original tipoff, it was seen before several exams that question papers would start circulating on social media. In several of these cases, such as that involving coaching institute owner CP Sindhi, we found that they actually knew, which question paper would be used in the exam,” said the IG.
After questioning the students who studied at Sindhi’s coaching institute, the SOG came to know that Atishay Jain, owner of Lekha coaching institute, was also known to give question papers to his students before exams.
SOG arrested Jain on April 23, and recovered the question papers from his laptop and mobile.
All the accused have been booked under the Rajasthan Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1992, and this has become the first instance in the state when this specific act has been used so extensively.
SOG officials say that further investigation could lead to more arrests in this case, the ripples of which has managed to shake the very foundation of educational system in Rajasthan.