The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A first for a fee, ask Naren

Joypur, March 10: He had done it at least twice earlier. Three more days and he would have hoodwinked the invigilators, headmasters and the Madhyamik board for the third year in a row.

But fortunes turned the tide for Naren Chandra Mahato, a 24-year-old physics graduate. He was arrested today while taking the Mathematics test at the R.B.B. High School centre in Joypur, 25 km west of Purulia.

A confident Naren was sitting for the Madhyamik examinations in place of original candidate Kinkar Prasad Mahato, a student from Ekduara High School in Damru, about 12 km from here. Kinkar had failed to get through last year’s examination.

But Naren became a ghost examinee only for a “fee”.

“I take Rs 15,000 if the candidate gets a first division and Rs 10,000 if it’s a second. The charge for a third division and a pass is between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000,” he said, without batting an eyelid.

In 2001, the graduate was an impostor candidate at the Victoria High School centre in Purulia town. “The next year, I appeared for a candidate from the Rajasthan High School (Purulia),” Naren claimed. He refused to divulge the names of the candidates. “That is for you to find out,” he said.

He later said he had done the trick in neighbouring Jharkhand as well.

The deception fell through when rumours started doing the rounds in Joypur that an impostor candidate was appearing for the board exams at R.B.B. High School.

The school authorities, including headmaster Ashok Kumar Pati and centre inspector (on behalf of the board) Basab Mukhopadhyay, scrutinised the admit cards of each of the 546 candidates at the centre.

When they came to Kinkar, they noticed that the candidate’s photograph appeared to have been re-pasted. Even as the youth (Naren) vehemently denied he was an impostor, arrangements were made to summon Jagadish Mahato, headmaster of the Ekduara school, and Kinkar’s parents.

“That was on Friday. The boy turned up on Saturday and today as well for the exams, despite knowing that we were making inquiries,” said Pati. When officer in-charge of Joypur police station Anandamoy Goswami turned up, Naren claimed he was Kinkar, confident that the Ekduara school headmaster’s signature and seal on his photo would see him through.

Jagadish Mahato finally appeared at the R.B.B. school this afternoon. Naren was unmasked. “This is not Kinkar,” he said.

Sustained interrogation by Goswami yielded a confession and the true story.

“I did it to support my family. I was an agent for Sahara Finance but that did not work,” Naren said. Apparently, his nemesis was Kinkar. “He told someone,” Naren said.

“We have arrested Kinkar and his father. Two others named in the FIR lodged by the school will also be arrested from their village in Baduri,” said Goswami. Naren’s statements will be verified.

District inspector of schools Paresh Mohapatra said this was the first time such an incident had come to light in the district. It was a first of its kind in this year’s Madhyamik as well.

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