On 11 September this year, the authorities of the Theni Medical College in Tamil Nadu received a mail that was different from what it usually gets.
The mail, sent by a person called Ashok Krishna, alleged that one of the students who had joined the medical graduation course this year had used an impersonator in the qualification exam.
Aspirants who want to enter the medical graduation course in the 24 government and private colleges in Tamil Nadu have to appear for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) to qualify.
The mail alleged that one of the new students, K V Udit Surya, had used an impersonator to write NEET and qualify.
Disturbed by the mail, the college authorities summoned Surya and conducted an inquiry on 13 September. The authorities found that his original identity did not match the photograph pasted on the admission card.
Knowing that he was facing trouble, Surya gave a letter dated 9 September to the college authorities saying that he was withdrawing from the first-year course as he suffered from “mental stress”.
By that time, things had taken a dramatic turn. The college authorities referred the issue to the Directorate of Medical Education (DME), which asked the medical college dean to lodge a police complaint.
A case of cheating and impersonation was registered against him, his father — K S Venkatesh, a doctor at Chennai Stanley Government Medical College Hospital, and the person who impersonated as Udit Surya.
Udit Surya and his family then locked their house in North Chennai and went into hiding.
With Tamil Nadu Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CB-CID) police taking over the case, Udit Surya and his father were arrested on Thursday (26 September) from a hotel in Tirupati.
The probe into the impersonation case has revealed some more facts. Udit Surya had appeared for NEET in 2017 and 2018 but failed to qualify.
This year, too, Udit Surya didn’t appear to be making the cut since he fared poorly in the mock tests conducted by coaching centres. It was then someone gave his father the idea to hire an impersonator.
To facilitate the impersonator to sit and write NEET, Udit Surya chose a centre in Mumbai for the qualification exam.
The Mumbai centre was picked since the person who made the arrangement reportedly hailed from the metropolitan city.
The CB-CID police is now trying to catch hold of the impersonator. They also plan to take Venkatesh to the city if required to get to the bottom of the case.
Initial investigations reveal that Venkatesh, Udit Surya’s father, paid Rs 20 lakh for the impersonation as he was keen to get his son admitted in the medical graduation course.
Meanwhile, the DME asked all the 24 government and private medical colleges in Tamil Nadu to scrutinise all first-year students' admission cards and ensure the photographs in them match with their original identity.
Two days ago, reports from Coimbatore said that the identity of two more students from PSG Medical College, including a girl, didn’t match with their photographs in their admission form. While the boy has proved his identity, inquiry with regard to the girl continues.
Incidentally, the Tamil Nadu police also looked for details of the email sender. The IP location shows that the mail had originated from North America and police suspect the sender could have created a fictitious account.
With the email from “Ashok Krishna” tipping the authorities on impersonation in NEET and Tamil Nadu police set to investigate the case in Mumbai, more skeletons will likely tumble out.
M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani
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