Jamshedpur, April 7: Abhishek Singh alias Pinku swaggered into the principalís room at Jamshedpur Workersí College escorted by four policemen and some 15 of his cronies.
A while later, the undertrial prisoner from Sakchi subdivisional jail stepped into the examination hall to write his paper.
Whoever said there is opportunity in the middle of difficulty would possibly have approved. But not his fellow examinees, who found themselves writing their BA final year paper with a murder-accused.
While the prisoner took his seat and the policemen took guard, the privileged examinee demanded, and received, a steady supply of lassi, sweets, biscuits and cold drink throughout the exam. Tobacco, in the form of Pan Parag and Tulsi, was delivered at regular intervals.
The cronies, who sat outside chatting loudly, would come in after every few minutes to check if he needed anything. The invigilators were apparently too intimidated to protest while examinees fretted and fumed, unable to concentrate on their answers. But itís not as if Pinku, 21, had his way entirely. For instance, he had insisted on being given a separate room for himself and his friends to write his paper.
The principal, S.S. Razi, refused, pointing out that only the handicapped or the ailing were eligible for a room to themselves. It was the undertrial who had the last laugh, though, leaving Razi to regret the decision to put him in the middle of other students.
One of them, Aditya Jha, said he had lost 15 to 20 minutes because of the fracas caused by the undertrial. Examinees were frightened and disturbed by the steady supply of lassi to the undertrial on a day that was admittedly hot. He hoped the centreís superintendent would take steps to ensure the prisoner did not give a repeat performance.
The accompanying policemen, the examinees recalled, were convivial and evidently colluding with the undertrial. They joined in the party and were also served several glasses of lassi during the exam.
Ranchi University vice-chancellor, A.A. Khan, said he had directed the college to ensure the incident was not repeated when examinees appear for the next paper, scheduled on April 12.
The college principal blamed the policemen and said he had taken up the issue with the superintendent of Sakchi jail.
The superintendent, Bhagirath Karzi, told The Telegraph he had no control over the policemen and would inform the district police.
Abhishek, said to be the son of a businessman, is accused of being involved in the murder of one Sanatan Gope in November last year.
His bail petition was recently rejected by the district and sessions judge.
He is said to be an associate of Dinu Singh, a co-accused in the case, who has already been eliminated by the rival group.
Under these circumstances, invigilators wondered if the safety of examinees would be compromised by allowing the undertrial to appear with others.