NEET Exams Row: Bihar Police Found 68 Questions In Burnt Scraps That Matched Original Exam Paper

NEET Exams Row: Bihar Police Found 68 Questions In Burnt Scraps That Matched Original Exam Paper

All of the accused gave the police testimony, indicating that four examinees, out of those who were arrested, had memorized the answers from the leaked question paper a day before the NEET-UG exam on May 5.

Manasi KambleUpdated: Monday, June 24, 2024, 11:20 AM IST
Accused in leaking NEET paper in Bihar | PTI

Recently, the Bihar government has raised serious concerns regarding the integrity of the NEET-UG exam, alleging a significant paper leak. This assertion is based on findings by the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar police, which conducted a detailed investigation following suspicious events surrounding the examination process. Here's a detailed account of the unfolding events and the evidence supporting Bihar's claim of a NEET-UG paper leak.

Background Of The NEET-UG Exam
The NEET-UG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Under Graduate) is a highly competitive examination in India, administered by the National Testing Agency (NTA). It is the gateway for students aspiring to pursue undergraduate medical and dental courses in prestigious institutions across the country. The exam is conducted annually, and its credibility and fairness are paramount to ensure equal opportunities for all candidates.

NEET-UGC Exam Controversy
The controversy began with reports from the Jharkhand Police, who alerted their counterparts in Bihar about a potential paper leak related to the NEET-UG exam. Specifically, on May 4th, concerns were raised regarding the security of the exam papers, prompting swift action from law enforcement agencies.

Investigation And Findings
The Bihar Police, following leads provided by the Jharkhand Police, initiated an investigation into the alleged paper leak. Their attention was drawn to a group of suspects residing in Rajbanshi Nagar, Patna, who were allegedly involved in the dissemination of leaked exam materials. On May 5th, crucial evidence was discovered when police raided a location in Rajbanshi Nagar and found burnt scraps of what appeared to be the NEET-UG question paper.

Accused Arrested

Accused Arrested | PTI

Role of Bihar's Economic Offences Unit (EOU)
The Bihar EOU took charge of the investigation and meticulously examined the burnt remains recovered from the suspects' residence. Their findings, as reported to the Education Ministry, were compelling: 68 questions from the burnt scraps matched exactly with the original NEET-UG question paper provided by the NTA. This discovery was pivotal in substantiating Bihar's claims of a paper leak and prompted further action.

Collaboration Challenges With The NTA
Initially, Bihar faced obstacles in obtaining crucial information from the NTA, including the question paper itself. This delayed the investigative process, as the NTA was initially reluctant to share sensitive details related to the exam. However, after persistent efforts, the NTA cooperated and began providing necessary information to facilitate Bihar's investigation.

Detailed Analysis Of Evidence
The EOU's forensic analysis revealed not only identical questions but also matching serial numbers between the burnt scraps and the original question paper. This forensic evidence was crucial in establishing that the leaked materials originated from the NTA-designated exam center at Oasis School, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. The examination of CCTV footage from Oasis School further indicated irregularities in the handling of exam packets, raising additional concerns about security protocols.

Arrests And Further Investigation
In the course of their investigation, the Bihar Police, supported by the EOU, made a series of arrests. Initially, five suspects were apprehended, followed by additional arrests that brought the total number of detainees to 18. These arrests included individuals suspected of involvement in the dissemination of the leaked exam materials and those who benefited from the illicit information.

Examination Of Digital Evidence
To bolster their case, the EOU sent digital devices seized from the suspects to a forensics laboratory. The objective was to retrieve any digital traces or communication that could further substantiate the allegations of a coordinated effort to leak the NEET-UG question paper. This step underscored the comprehensive nature of the investigation aimed at uncovering the full extent of the wrongdoing.

Impact On Candidates And Educational Institutions
The revelations of a NEET-UG paper leak have cast a shadow over the fairness and integrity of the examination process. For the candidates who appeared for the exam under legitimate circumstances, the incident raises concerns about the potential advantages gained by those who had access to leaked materials. Educational institutions, particularly the Oasis School in Hazaribagh, have come under scrutiny for their role in safeguarding the integrity of the exam.

Response From Oasis School
Officials from Oasis School acknowledged receiving exam materials from the NTA but denied any wrongdoing on their part. They pointed out that the tampering, as evidenced by the irregular opening of exam packets, likely occurred before the materials reached their custody. This statement highlights the complexities involved in ensuring the security of exam materials throughout the distribution process.

Government Action And Escalation To The CBI
Based on the compelling evidence gathered by the EOU, the Education Ministry decided to escalate the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This decision underscored the seriousness of the allegations and the need for a thorough, impartial inquiry into the NEET-UG paper leak. The involvement of the CBI signifies a pivotal moment in the quest for accountability and justice in this high-profile case.

The unfolding events surrounding the NEET-UG paper leak underscore the importance of transparency, accountability, and rigorous oversight in maintaining the credibility of competitive exams.

Arrests In Maharashtra

In relation to the purported question paper leak in the NEET undergraduate medical entrance exam, Maharashtra Police detained four individuals on June 23, two of whom were teachers, according to officials, as reported by India Today.

After being questioned and released early on June 23, Sanjay Tukaram Jadhav and Jalil Umarkhan Pathan, two teachers from Latur, were arrested again on June 22 by the Nanded Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on suspicion of being involved in the scam. The other two individuals detained were Iranna Mashnaji Kongalwar of the Dharashiv district and Gangadhar, a resident of Delhi.

FIR Registered

Under the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, a First Information Report (FIR) has been filed against all four of the accused, alleging that they operated a racket that sold exam information to students in exchange for cash.

After receiving information about Jadhav and Pathan's involvement in these kinds of activities, the ATS raided their homes and found messages on their phones that seemed suspicious, including ones pertaining to exam hall tickets and financial transactions.

"The investigation suggests that Jadhav might have passed on the hall ticket details to Kongalwar, who then forwarded them to Gangadhar in Delhi, suspected to be the mastermind behind the leak," a police official said as per a report by India Today.

SIT Established

The Latur Deputy Commissioner of Police has established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the matter further.

Students have protested the NEET-UG exam over claims of a leaked question paper and the awarding of grace marks to over 1,500 students. Later, a retest was offered to the impacted students and the grace marks were eliminated.

The Union Ministry of Education requested that the CBI take over the investigation and file a formal complaint (FIR) over purported anomalies in NEET-UG, sparking a furious debate. Special teams were dispatched to Gujarat and Bihar, where cases of question paper leaks have been registered by police.


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