Anatomy of a prodigal scam

She came, she flunked & she was arrested

By Joy Sengupta in Patna
  • Published 26.06.16
  •  
Vishun Roy College student Ruby Rai walks into the Bihar School Examination Board office on Fraser Road on Saturday afternoon. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey

Patna, June 25: Ruby Rai, the Intermediate Plus-Two arts "topper" who thought "prodigal (her spelling of political) science" deals with cooking, was arrested today after she failed her re-evaluation test, with police saying they have cracked the result scam.

Ruby, who had been avoiding appearing before the re-examination committee of the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB), finally wrote a special test around 3 this afternoon. The girl, a student of Vishun Roy College in Vaishali - the epicentre of the fraud - owned by one of the alleged scam masterminds Bachcha Rai, had scored 444 marks out of 500 in her Intermediate exam held earlier this year. But in the half-hour test today, she failed to answer even a single question correctly, prompting the board to cancel her result.

"The committee members were of the view that her result should be cancelled as her answers were not at all satisfactory. She couldn't provide the right answers to any of the questions. She lacked even the most basic knowledge about the subjects. Hence, the board has decided to cancel her results permanently," BSEB chairman Anand Kishor said.

Soon after the board announced its decision, a team of the special investigation team (SIT) probing the scam took Ruby and one of her family members into custody and ferried them to an undisclosed location.

The education department had on June 6 lodged a complaint with the police after media reports showed some of the toppers, including Ruby, making a mockery of basic questions.

Ruby appears before the academic committee for a special examination. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey

The complaint, on the basis of which an FIR was lodged at the Kotwali police station in Patna under sections related to cheating, forgery and conspiracy, had clearly mentioned the names of four toppers (science and arts) - Shalini Rai, Saurav Shreshtha, Rahul Kumar and Ruby Rai, all students of Vishun Roy College.

"The police had given a lot of chances to the four and their parents to appear and speak to the SIT. On June 4, the BSEB cancelled the results of the other toppers after their answers before the special committee were found to be unsatisfactory. The other toppers and their parents are missing. We have arrest warrants against them," Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaaj said.

Maharaaj went on to detail the anatomy of the scam, whose alleged kingpins are Bachcha, former BSEB boss Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife, former JDU MLA and college principal Usha Sinha. All three are in custody.

"It has been learnt that Bachcha Rai had paid a sum of Rs 15 lakh to Usha Sinha for declaring Shalini Rai, his daughter, and Ruby Rai, a distant relative of his, as toppers. The money had been paid at the residence of Usha Sinha in Patna. However, the plan involved withholding Shalini's result and declaring Saurav Shreshtha as the science topper. Shalini had been declared the state topper by the board headed by Lalkeshwar in the 2014 matriculation examinations. The plan was Shalini would have protested against the results this time and a scrutiny would have taken place, following which she would have been declared the topper. This would have prevented any questions being asked against Shalini," Maharaaj said.

Ruby after her arrest. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey

Once the money was paid to Usha Sinha, who was in regular touch with Bachcha and his associates, she made Lalkeshwar change the evaluation centre for Vishun Roy College.

"The evaluation centres for all the colleges in Vaishali district were usually colleges located either in Bhabua or Bhojpur. But the evaluation centre for Vishun Roy College was manipulated by Usha and Lalkeshwar. The answer-scripts and evaluation sheets were tampered with. The board sent the final mark sheets for processing (final printing and designing) to a centre in Calcutta. It has been learnt that the marksheet of Shalini didn't have any numbers on them and she was absent for all the papers. However, her answersheet was present in the board office. The plan, as said earlier, was to withhold her result and announce her as the topper during scrutiny. Her result would have been printed later using unfair means," the SSP said.

Apart from this, an investigator said, Usha and her husband, in association with others, also ran a racket in providing recognition to the colleges.

"The BSEB has a system of recognising unaided colleges for conducting examinations and course studies. The board has a set of guidelines based on which the recognition is provided. It has been learnt that the couple, with the help of Bachcha and his associates, took Rs 4 lakh each from around 230 colleges and provided recognition to them. If one calculates, that is a huge amount of money. Also, the government gives grants to unaided colleges on the basis of marks scored by its students. A sum of Rs 4,500 each is provided for every first division secured and Rs 3,500 for a second division. So, if a college has 100 students and all of them have secured first division marks, a grant of Rs 4.50 lakh is provided to it. The couple used to take money (between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 4 lakh) from the colleges, inflate the marks and when the grants would arrive, take a cut," an SIT member told The Telegraph.