A damaged keyboard at the Chanchal College office in Malda on Tuesday. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, May 6: Around 60 youths, many of them undergraduate examinees, today ransacked a Malda college and tore the answer sheets of other students after some were caught cheating and told to leave by invigilators.
The Part III history honours exam was scrapped after the ransacking. No fresh date for the test has been announced.
No arrests have been made either.
In Chanchal College, the Part III history exam of Gour Banga University was being conducted in 10 rooms.
The exam began at 10am and was to end at 1pm. Around an hour into the exam, 35 students of Samsi College were caught cheating in several rooms of the exam centre. This is the first time Gour Banga had sent examinees to “away” centres — colleges other than where the students read.
In Chanchal College, about 75km from Malda town, 488 students of Samsi College and Harishchandrapur College were appearing for the exam. Of them, 450 students were from Samsi College.
According to Gahul Amin, the teacher in charge of Chanchal College, as soon as the examination began, some of the students were caught copying from notes that they had smuggled into the exam hall.
“Thirty-five examinees, all from Samsi College, were caught red-handed while copying. It was around 11am. The invigilators snatched their answerscripts and they were asked to leave the centre,” Amin said.
An hour later, the students returned with other youths — Amin labelled them as “outsiders” — and ransacked the rooms where examinees were still writing the paper.
“The students returned with a large number of outsiders around noon. There were some former students of our college among them. They entered eight of the 10 classrooms where the exams were on and began snatching the answer scripts from students and tore them to pieces. They were shouting that no one would be allowed to write the exam,” Amin said.
“When our teachers protested they were threatened. The ransacking went on for 30 minutes. The youths left when other examinees started protesting.”Amin said there were three to four lathi-wielding policemen who could do nothing to stop the mob. “A large force from Chanchal police station came around 12.40pm. By then, the youths had left after disrupting the exam. Today’s incident is a matter of serious concern. We are worried about how to conduct the rest of the exams,” Amin said.
“The undergraduate (honours) exams had begun on May 2. Today was the fourth day. The exams will end on May 19. We have informed the varsity authorities about the incident,” he said.
A teacher of Samsi College, which is 30km from the Chanchal exam centre, said he was “ashamed” that students from his institution had disrupted an exam after they were caught cheating.
Pradyut Pal, one of the students of Samsi College, said he was writing his exam when suddenly, some students started shouting that no one would be allowed to write the test”.
“The mob entered classrooms and demanded we hand over our papers. When we refused, they snatched our answerscripts and ripped them to pieces. They broke windowpanes and overturned benches. When we gathered and began protesting they left. I do not know when the retest will be held,” said Zahir Sheikh, another examinee of Samsi College.
Amin said in the police complaint he had named Zakir Hossain, Amanat Sarkar and Subhamoy Sadya, all ex-students of Chanchal College and Mujibur Rehman, an outsider whom he had recognised.
No student from Samsi College was named as Amin did not know their names.
Pralay Kumar Ghosh, the teacher in charge of Samsi College, said: “When I was told what had happened in Chanchal College I felt ashamed as the ransacking was led by our students. They should not be spared and should be penalised.”
The registrar of Gour Banga University, Shyam Sundar Bairagya, and controller of examinations Sanatan Das visited Chanchal College later in the day.
“We are collecting CCTV footage from Chanchal College. We will send a full report to the vice-chancellor on the incident. We had introduced the away centre system from this year for the first time to curb copying. We will continue our efforts to end exam cheating,” Bairagya said.
Gopal Mishra, the vice-chancellor, said: “I have sent the registrar and the controller of examinations to the college. They will submit a detailed report to me. We will take stern steps against those students who were involved in the violence. We will decide on what to do about the disrupted exam after we get the report.”
Malda police superintendent Rupesh Kumar said an investigation had begun. “It is true that there were a few policemen posted at the college during the ransacking. We had sent a large force there but the mob had fled by then. We have started an investigation,” Kumar said.