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Bihar police probe hints at NEET UG paper leak, NTA accused of stalling investigation

EOU additional director-general Nayyar Hasnain Khan told The Telegraph on Friday that an FIR was registered at Shastrinagar police station in Patna on May 5, the very day the NEET-UG was conducted and 13 persons were arrested

Dev Raj Patna Published 15.06.24, 06:55 AM
Students protest against irregularities in the NEET-UG results in Ranchi on Friday.

Students protest against irregularities in the NEET-UG results in Ranchi on Friday. PTI picture

Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday asserted that there was no evidence of the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) paper leak, but investigations by Bihar police and its economic offences unit (EOU) indicated that the question papers had indeed leaked.

Pradhan also rejected allegations of corruption in the National Testing Agency (NTA) that conducted it and termed it as a very trustworthy institution. However, the reports suggested that the NTA had stalled the EOU investigations for around a month by not providing information sought by its officials.

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Around 13 persons were arrested in connection with the alleged medical entrance exam paper leak, but the non-cooperation of the NTA jeopardised further probe.

EOU additional director-general Nayyar Hasnain Khan told The Telegraph on Friday that an FIR was registered at Shastrinagar police station in Patna on May 5, the very day the NEET-UG was conducted and 13 persons were arrested.

The police officers initially took technical support from the EOU. Later on, the police headquarters ordered the EOU to take over the case, given its expertise.

The EOU took up the case on May 17 and formed a nine-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by an SP-rank officer.

“According to the investigations, the mafia involved in compromising the exam picked up the candidates a day before the examination and kept them at a boys’ hostel on the outskirts of Patna. They kept their (candidates’) original documents with them and made them memorise the questions and answers,” Khan said.

“The candidates were then dropped at the examination centres to write the papers. Four such candidates have been nabbed so far and they have said that the questions in the NEET-UG completely tallied with the ones they were made to memorise,” Khan added.

Raids were conducted at the Learn Boys Hostel in Khemnichak on the outskirts of Patna where the examinees were kept.

Several things, including a NEET-UG booklet bearing the serial number 6136488, were found on the hostel premises. The arrested candidates revealed that around 30 examinees were housed there overnight prior to the examination.

EOU officials said that the arrested persons included Sikandar Yadvendu, Akhilesh Kumar, and Nitish Kumar. They had been previously nabbed in connection with paper leaks in different examinations, including the recent one pertaining to the recruitment of teachers in Bihar, but had managed to come out on bail.

The EOU approached the NTA in mid-May and sought information on the “chain of custody” of question papers, their printing, transportation and distribution as well as people and agencies involved in it, but no inputs were provided.

“The NTA responded with an email the day before yesterday (Wednesday) after several requests. Our officials are going through it to see whether the information is adequate or not. If necessary, we will seek further information from it. The delay of almost a month in responding to our queries stalled us and we were not able to make further headway in the case,” Khan told this newspaper.

The Telegraph also accessed the FIR registered by the police at the Shastrinagar police station in Patna on the day NEET-UG was conducted.

It talks about intelligence inputs about the movement of suspects involved in compromising the NEET-UG. The tip-off involved that the “chain of custody” of its question papers was jeopardised and they were leaked, while the people involved were moving around the examination centres in a particular vehicle.

A team led by inspector Amar Kumar, the station house officer (SHO) of Shastrinagar police station in Patna, intercepted the vehicle and nabbed three persons. Photocopies of four admit cards of examinees were also recovered from them along with mobile phones.

The SHO and his colleagues swung into action and managed to nab one of the candidates, identified as Ayush Raj, from the examination centre — DAV Public School BSEB — at Punaichak within their jurisdiction.

Ayush allegedly confessed before the police that the same questions, which were given to him to learn by heart, came in the examination.

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