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Pen in hand, Maoists ready for HSC

Berhampur/Cuttack, Feb. 24: Nearly six lakh students, including a few Maoists and undertrials, are studying hard to achieve the same goal — a good result in the High School Certificate (HSC) examination that begins tomorrow.

The Board of Secondary Education has made a three-tier security arrangement to ensure an incident-free examination.

Maoist Siladitya Singh, 18, a resident of Balinala village in Ganjam district, willd take the HSC exam from Berhampur Circle Jail. Siladitya, a Class X dropout, was lodged in the jail as an undertrial prisoner on December 6, 2012.

“I have prepared well for the tests and hope to secure first class. My aim is to study LLB and become a lawyer,” Siladitya said.

Nineteen Naxalites, including seven women candidates, are lodged in Berhampur Circle Jail. Siladitya, along with five others undertrial prisoners, including U. Narasimha Reddy of K. Nuagaon, Titu Pahan of Bikrampur, Ganesh Khatei of Khandia Sahi, Susant Kumar Das of Nimagaon Bauri Sahi (in murder cases), Gopabandhu Badatya of Sasanpalli (in dowry torture case) and Minati Nayak of the Centre Home for Women would take the tests.

“We were reading from 8am to 11am and again from 3pm to 5pm daily at the NIOS Study Centre in the jail and also in our respective cells at night prior to the examination,” a prisoner said.

Jail teacher Bhaskar Behera said 120 prisoners were studying in the NIOS Study Centre for Class X, intermediate, degree course and PG course in rural development and political science. They include prisoners from Boudh, Phulbani, Bhanjanagar, Kodala, Sorada, Chhatrapur and Gunupur. “We have introduced PG course for the first time. While five prisoners, including four life convict, and one undertrial would appear for PG exam in rural development, one would appear in PG (political science) examination of the IGNOU in next June. They are being provided text books and note books free of cost,” Bhaskar said.

On the other hand, nearly 75 district-level squads and 52 central squads have been formed to put a check on malpractice during the exam. Besides, mobile squads have also been formed to ensure that the exam is conducted in a transparent manner in various centres across the state.

This year, a record number of nearly six lakh students, including 5,54,644 regular ones, will appear the exam in 2,735 centres. The process of issuing admit cards to the candidates is over while hand-written cards will be issued to those, who have failed to get their respective documents.

“Of six lakh students, only 300 have not received their admit cards owing to some technical errors. We will issue hand-written admit cards to them,” said board president D.P. Nanda.

Students will have to answer multiple choice questions in part 1 (50 marks) on optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets, which has been introduced for the first time this year.

Nanda said each examination centre had been provided with 25 spare OMR sheets, while additional 300 sheets had been kept at the nodal centres. “We are a bit nervous as this is one of the major exams that will determine our future. At the same time, we are also relaxed as we have already completed revision of all the subjects,” said Vedapriya Singh, a student.

Board officials have also made elaborate arrangements for security of the question paper-cum-answer booklets that have been kept in 305 nodal centres. The question papers will be dispatched to respective centres amid tight security tonight. An official said that though grading system had been introduced for the first time, the students securing less than 30 marks in any subjects would have to reappear the examination.