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Board denies math leak but probes

Calcutta, March 15: Sections of the Madhyamik math paper allegedly landed at the office of a private television channel about an hour and a half before the exam started today, sucking the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education into a potential leak scandal.

Officials of the TV channel claimed that around 10.30 am a packet containing “suggestions” for the exam was delivered at their office. They immediately checked its contents and got in touch with police and board officials. Then they faxed the “suggestions” to the board office which said it received them only after the exam started.

Board president Dibyendu Hota simply termed the turn of events “mysterious and unusual” but declined comment on whether the handwritten “suggestions” tallied with the actual questions. He insisted it was not a “leak” because his office received the faxed pages “six minutes after the exam started”.

Despite Hota’s denials, the board has been forced to initiate a probe into the alleged leak. The board chief insisted the incident was a “conspiracy to malign the state government before the general elections”.

However, a comparison of copies of the math paper and the “suggestions” showed that questions adding up to 70 per cent of the marks were common.

Although Hota insisted it was not a leak, he was hard put to explain how anyone outside the exam hall could have known the math questions before 1 pm. Board rules stipulate that those in the hall cannot leave — even for the toilet — till an hour after the exam is under way.

“The papers are distributed 15 minutes before the start of an exam. Someone could have whisked away a paper and rushed to the audio-visual channel’s office after copying some portions,” Hota said. “I have seen only the first of the four faxed papers and cannot call this a leak.”

But he initiated an inquiry, which will be conducted by the board itself. The probe would try to identify the venue of the alleged leak and find out who brought the question papers out of the hall after the copies were distributed.

By the end of the day, the police had problems remembering when or whether at all the television channel’s officials had got in touch with them after they received the packet of “suggestions”.

The TV channel insisted it had got in touch with Raj Kanojia, DIG, headquarters, around 11.30 am, but he said he had “no recollection” of this.

Even without the “leak”, the board had enough problems on its hands. Faced with allegations that today’s papers were “unusually” tough, the CPM-affiliated All-Bengal Teachers’ Association conceded it would be “very difficult for an average student to score 50 per cent”.

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