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Heads roll in paper leak

Guwahati, Feb. 26: The besieged Board of Secondary Education, Assam (Seba), turned rudderless a day after the matric question-paper leak triggered protests and sent the embarrassed Congress government scurrying to fix responsibility for the lapse.

Seba chairman D.N. Barman and controller of examinations B.C. Medhi put in their papers during the day and the government accepted their resignations after an emergency meeting of the education department at chief minister Tarun Gogoiís residence in the evening.

Official sources, however, said the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examination would continue as scheduled. The date for the mathem-atics exam, the question paper for which had been leaked out, is likely to be fixed tomorrow at a meeting of the Seba examinations committee.

Protests over the fiasco subsided when news of the two top Seba officials resigning reached the All Assam Studentsí Union (AASU) leadership. The student organisation had organised a demonstration in front of the Seba office, demanding their resignations.

AASU president Shankar Prasad Rai said the organisation would continue to keep an eye on Seba.

The meeting at the chief ministerís residence decided to ask the CID to probe the paper leak simultaneously with principal secretary H.M. Caire. The bureaucrat will probe the circumstances that led to the question paper leak and fix responsibility, while the CID will investigate the case registered at Barpeta Sadar police station.

Seba was forced to cancel the general mathematics exam yesterday after Barpeta police sniffed out a hand-written copy of the question paper the previous evening. The police arrested five persons on charges of conspiring with somebody in Seba to sell the question paper to interested students before the exam.

On cross-checking with the board, the police discovered that the handwritten copy matched the original.

Dispur placed Seba secretary Dilwar Hussain under suspension in the aftermath of the paper leak. Mohsin Ali, who replaced Hussain yesterday, was tonight asked to take additional charge as Seba chairman. The board will get a new controller of examinations soon, official sources said.

The National Studentsí Union of India (NSUI) criticised Seba for the security lapse that led to the mathematics paper being leaked out and demanded that the culprits be arrested immediately.

Bibhuti Bhushan Barthakur, president of the NSUIís state unit, said his organisation would extend support to the authorities to ensure that such an incident does not recur.

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