Cooch Behar, Feb. 24: A peon working at the district treasury ripped open a parcel containing question papers of the Madhyamik examination that begins on March 5, triggering howls of protest and accusations of a paper leak.
The incident, which took place yesterday, prompted an embarrassed district administration to transfer the group D employee from the treasury building to another office.
“A parcel containing a set of Madhyamik question papers was opened at the treasury by mistake and without any ill intention. The Madhyamik board in Calcutta has been informed about the matter and we are investigating the incident,” additional district magistrate O.S. Meena said today.
The parcel was delivered at the treasury office, located at Sagardighi, yesterday afternoon. The packet, addressed to the district treasury officer, contained questions for the additional subject of biology.
The parcel was received by a treasury clerk, Kuhu Biswas, who left the packet on her table and went out for lunch.
In the meantime, another group D employee of the same office, Dulal Das, broke open the seal. Inside, there was another packet that contained the biology papers for Diwanhat High School.
Cooch Behar treasury officer Abhijit Biswas maintained that Das had opened the packet out of curiosity. “No one has caught a glimpse of the question papers. The packet was sent to me immediately after that and locked up inside our strongroom,” Biswas asserted.
According to sources in the Cooch Behar administration, Kuhu Biswas had been transferred to the district compensation office for accepting a parcel that was meant for the treasury officer.
Accusing the Left Front of callousness, the teachers’ association of the Congress said every year the board’s question papers were leaked out in some parts of the state.
“Examinees and their guardians doubt the claim of the treasury authorities that no one saw the question papers. Fresh question papers should be sent,” said the secretary of the West Bengal Teachers’ Association, Ramesh Lahiri.
Bakul Dutta, a member of the Madhyamik board and the district secretary of the CPM-dominated All Bengal Teachers’ Association, sought to downplay the incident, which he said could not be termed a question paper “leak”. “There was no attempt to sneak a look into the question papers and hence there is no point in demanding new question papers,” Dutta said.
But not many students were willing to believe that it was “mere curiosity” that spurred the treasury clerk to unwrap the parcel.
“Such incidents, a few days before the examinations, causes loss in concentration,” said Pratima De, a candidate.
In Calcutta, president of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education Dibyendu Hota said: “This will not affect the examinations since we have alternative arrangements. A team of officials will leave for north Bengal tomorrow and start an inquiry. We will take necessary action against the culprit after getting the inquiry report.”
Hota added: “The treasury premises is being used to store the question papers for a long time. No such incident has ever occurred in the past. I cannot really understand what prompted the employee to open the packet.”