News Brief

NEET-UG Paper Leak Modus Operandi: Answer Keys Given In Bihar, Students In Gujarat Told To Keep Answer Sheets Blank

Krishna Dange

Jun 25, 2024, 04:14 PM | Updated 04:11 PM IST

Image for representational purpose. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Image for representational purpose. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The ongoing probe into the undergraduate (UG) medical entrance test paper leaks which was first identified in Bihar has now spread across different parts of India.

As of now, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken charge of the probe from the state police units in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of the Bihar Police was the first to suggest that the integrity of the National Entrance and Eligibility Test (NEET) conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admissions to UG medical courses may have been compromised.

According to a recent Indian Express report, the EOU which had apprehended at least 19 men said to be involved in the paper leaks case before the probe was handed over to CBI, had found 68 questions from the burnt remains of the photocopies recovered from a location in Patna to have matched with those in the original question papers.

As the scope of the investigation expands, different patterns of paper leaks are emerging from the states currently where the probe is ongoing.

The main accused in the Bihar instance of paper leaks — Sanjeev Mukhiya, yet to be nabbed and Sikandar Yadavendu, had reportedly acquired the question papers from an individual identified as a professor from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, and had provided an answer key for the same to students before the exam.

On the other hand, those involved in leaking the paper in Gujarat and most likely in Maharashtra as well, had colluded with the examination centre supervisor to fill the answer key on behalf of the students who had paid them for the same.

This has brought to light the several novel ways adopted by paper leak masterminds across the country causing deep resentment among the students with demands being raised for probing all exams conducted by the NTA this year.

A Known Mastermind In Paper Leaks As The Kingpin In Bihar

Sanjeev Mukhiya, one of the two main co-accused in NEET paper leak in Bihar, was reportedly named in investigations of previous instances of paper leaks as well.

As per an ABP news report, Mukhiya, a technical assistant at the Nursarai Horticultural College in Bihar had been arrested and convicted in a paper leak case in 2016. His son Shiv Kumar too was later found to have been involved in Bihar Public Service Commission paper leaks and is currently in jail.

In the NEET paper leak case, Mukhiya is said to have teamed up with one Sikandar Yadavendu, a Bihar government employee posted at the Danapur Municipal Council and an unknown professor from Hazaribagh. Of the three, Yadavendu and five students which includes his nephew Anurag, were first arrested by the Bihar Police on 5 May.

As per reports, Mukhiya is supposed to have received the NEET-UG question paper from the person being referred as Professor through the popular messaging application Whatsapp a day before the exam.

Since the number on the burnt photocopies of the question paper recovered from the Patna hideout of the accused matched with the exam centre in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, the Professor is supposed to have had an access to the location where the papers were kept a day before the exam.

After receiving the question paper on WhatsApp, Mukhiya is said to have made photocopies of the same and got them solved through a group of 20-25 students pursuing MBBS in Bihar and Jharkhand.

On May 5, the exam day, Mukhiya reportedly handed the solved question papers to students, each of whom had paid him Rs 30 lakh. Among those who received the solved paper was the nephew of Mukhiya's partner Yadavendu, identified as Anurag. He was appearing for the exam.

After the expose, it was also revealed that the arrangements for one of the main co-accused — Yadevendu's stay in a state government-run guesthouse in Patna were made by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav's son and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav’s personal assistant Preetam Kumar.

Latching on to this RJD connection, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) which is part of the coalition government in the state, accused the party leaders of having been the masterminds behind the paper leaks.

In response, RJD leader Manoj Jha accused said that Mukhiya, one of the main co-accused in the Bihar case of paper leaks, was related to the JD(U) chief and the state's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Jha said that Mukhiya's wife was a JD(U) member and that she had contested local elections on the party's tickets.

How Did The Accused Get Access To The Question Papers?

According to Maheshwar Peri of Careers360, it is most likely that the exam supervisors in the instances of paper leak identified in Bihar and Jharkhand had colluded with the accused to access the question papers before the exam.

"After being dispatched by the NTA, the question papers are first deposited in a strong room of a bank branch nearest to the exam centre. The exam centre supervisor is informed a day before from which branch they are supposed to collect the papers. Now if the supervisor appointed by the NTA, the exam centre owner and third parties collude, the paper can be leaked," Peri said in an interview to News Tak.

In case of the exam's sanctity having been violated in Gujarat's Godhra, the local accused colluded with the exam centre supervisors and arranged for the answers left unattempted by the solicited students to be correctly answered after the papers had been submitted.

"It is important to note that those who attempted the exam here were not only from Gujarat but there were also students from other states as well who had selected the Godhra-based exam centre now under scanner. It is likely that the students were aware that the exam could be 'managed' at this centre.

"Similar must have been the case in Haryana's Jhajjar where nearly eight candidates scored a perfect 720 in the exam," Peri added.

It is being speculated that a similar modus operandi must have been adopted by the three accused arrested by Maharashtra Police in Latur and their supposed accomplice named Gangadhar who was nabbed from Delhi. During the probe, the state police officials had found images of NEET UG student's hall tickets in the devices of the accused here.

Staff Writer at Swarajya

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