The police also nabbed 15 others associated with the coaching classes, two ex-armymen among others.
Mumbai: The Thane police’s crime branch on Saturday night, in the wake of the leak of exam papers meant for an Army Recruitment Board test on Sunday, conducted searches on the premises of eight coaching centres in a state-wide operation.
The police had learned that former army officials had handed the owners of these centres copies of the secret question papers.
The police on Sunday nabbed 18 persons, including 15 associated with the coaching centres, two former army officials and a serving home guard official for their complicity in the racket.
The police probe found that there was a breach in the security protocol related to the exam’s secrecy, wherein somebody accessed the question papers stored in password-protected compact disks distributed to the heads of examination centres in the state. After securing copies of the question papers from their sources, the coaching centres had allegedly handed them over to certain examinees at the rate of Rs 2-3 lakh per candidate, said police sources. “The arrests were made in Nashik, Pune, Nagpur and Goa. More than 200 students were detained by the police as well,” joint commissioner of police Ashutosh Dumbare told The Asian Age. Sunday’s exam got cancelled as a result of the leak at six centres in Maharashtra and Goa.
On February 26, the exam was held around 11 am throughout the country. The examinations were held for a number of lower level posts including soldier clerk, strongman and soldier tradesman in 52 centres across the country. However, with the police exposing the paper leak, the examination across six centres in Maharashtra currently stands cancelled.
According to Thane police officers, they got a tip off about coaching classes leaking papers, after which the Thane police’s crime branch conducted raids in Nagpur, Pune, Nashik and Goa. More than 200 students were detained on Saturday night but later they were sent back to take the exam.
Crime branch senior police inspector Nitin Thakrey said, “The two ex-army officers and home guard had started coaching classes for defence exams. They used to take more than Rs 10,000 for the classes. Just before the exam the accused allegedly gave real question papers to the students and asked them to pay Rs 2 lakh as half payment before the exam and the rest of the amount after they got the results and a job in the army.”
The official added, “The chief army officials usually create papers, which they are put on password-protected CDs that are sent to different centres in the country. Only centre head gets that password and then on opening the certain file they print the papers. We know that someone from army office was helping the accused.”
The Army Recruitment Board has countermanded examinations in six centres namely Kamptee, Nagpur, Ahmednagar, Ahmedabad, Goa and Kirkee. The army has also reportedly ordered an internal inquiry.