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Lens on question paper theft

Bhubaneswar, March 23: The state government today asked the crime branch to probe into the theft of the matriculation examination question papers.

School and mass education minister Pratap Jena made an announcement in the Assembly. The Opposition parties, however, demanded resignation of chief minister Naveen Patnaik and a probe either by the judicial commission or CBI.

Question papers of seven subjects for the ongoing matriculation examinations were found stolen from a high school in Puri on March 21, forcing the state government to postpone the examinations by 20 days.

The minister announced that a high-power committee would be constituted to find out the loopholes in the examination system and suggest remedial measures.

Allaying fears about the possible delay in publication of results, the minister said steps were being taken to ensure publication of results by June 30. “The students need not get depressed as there would be no problem in admission into higher secondary courses. There would be a gap of 15 days,” he said.

Steps will also be taken to keep a second set of question papers ready to ensure that the exams are not postponed again. Instead of keeping the question papers in the custody of centre superintendents, now onwards, they would be kept at a designated centre in each district.

Matriculation results would be published simultaneously along with those of CBSE and ICSE from the next academic session, the minister assured.

However, the Opposition members walked out as the government rejected their demands.

“The police has failed and the chief minister, who heads the home department, is accountable for it,” said Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan.

“The issue involves the career of five lakh students. The chief minister has asked nearly 30 ministers to resign on moral grounds during the past 12 years. This time, he should set the example by taking moral responsibility and stepping down from office,” said leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh.

When news of the matriculation exams being postponed by 20 days trickled in, thousands of students were left depressed. A student from Kendrapara even attempted to commit suicide, MLAs said.

They added that, as the exams have been postponed, it would also cause additional financial burden on the parents apart from the state exchequer.

This is the first time that matriculation exams are being rescheduled. Fresh dates for the exam would be announced within three weeks and the candidates would be required to appear for all papers, except Odia.

In a related development, the sudden rescheduling of the examinations has triggered apprehension among colleges offering diplomas in engineering courses. They fear that the delay in exams could affect the sale of forms for the diploma entrance test.

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