If the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for medical aspirants had been made compulsory for all states as suggested by the Supreme Court from this academic year itself, the Eamcet-2 (Engineering, Agriculture and Medical Common Entrance Test, that was held for the second time) scam in Telangana would have been averted, avoiding immeasurable hardship to thousands of medial course aspirants.
Initial investigations by the Telangana CID police into the Eamcet-2 question paper leakage scam of around Rs 120 crore suggests that a well-oiled mafia that spans across the country was behind it and that a powerful network of brokers, unscrupulous coaching centers and touts associated with some private medical colleges wanted to make money before NEET comes into force from next year.
Currently, Telangana cops are on a hunt to nab a question papers leaking mafia that deals only with medical entrance exams based out of Delhi. The mafia’s key members — Mayank Sharma, Mukul Jain, Suneel Singh and Mohammad Iqbal — have gone underground and Telangana police has requested the help of Delhi police in arresting them.
This mafia is known to have mastered the practice of leaking medical entrance tests over the past few years. They mostly deal with question papers printed in Delhi and surrounding places and sell them through a country-wide network of brokers to aspiring students and/or their parents. Telangana CID cops suspect that this mafia must have leaked many test papers of exams from Bihar, UP and Karnataka in the past.
Due to the timely unearthing of this scam, the government had to cancel the Eamcet-2 held on 9 July and it will conduct the same again on 11 September. As a result, around 56,000 students who appeared for the test will have to re-write the test. The students from both the Telugu states — Telangana and Andhra Pradesh — would be writing their sixth medical entrance test after NEET 1 and 2, two rounds of state Eamcets.
What shocked the CID top brass led by additional DG Satyanarian (retired on 31 July) was the fact that the medical entrance question paper leak mafia involved several hardcore criminals who were arrested on similar charges in the past as well as the complicity of some higher-ups in the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) based in Hyderabad in the entire process leading to a scam.
Due to the timely unearthing of this scam, the government had to cancel the Eamcet-2 held on 9 July and it will conduct the same again on 11 September. Around 56,000 students who appeared for the test will have to re-write it.
Senior police officials who spoke to The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity expressed doubts that the question papers of medical entrance tests might have been leaked to select students and powerful coaching centers for a price. Otherwise, Rajagopala Reddy, 65, a key member of the question paper leakage mafia who was arrested twice, couldn’t have managed to get bail so easily in 2010.
The CID police, besides Rajagopala Reddy, have arrested seven brokers in the case — Gudemella Chandrasekhar Reddy, Shaik Shakeera, Tirupal, Shaik Ramesh, Vishnudhar Raju, A. Venkata Ramaiah alias Venkata Ramana and Bandaru Ravindra. They are just the tip of the iceberg. These eight, now in police custody, revealed that there is a network of around 35 persons in the scam.
All of them, during their separate grilling, told the cops that they just got instructions on where to get the question paper and how to sell it to rich students who take coaching from institutes, but couldn’t provide any information on the whereabouts of the mafia kingpin. Even Rajagopala Reddy, who is a hardened criminal, had just told the cops that Mayanak Sharma dealt with him from Delhi.
These brokers have told the students as well as their parents that this was the last chance for them to get admission in a prestigious government medical college as NEET would come into force from 2017 academic year. Most parents attach greater importance to a government medical college than a private college where MBBS seats are sold at Rs 1 crore.
The Eamcet-2 question paper scam mafia sold two sets of question papers they gathered from a Delhi printing press at a price of Rs 40 lakh, that too in installments. Most of the parents paid an advance of Rs 10 lakh on getting the question paper and another Rs 10 lakh after the announcement of ranks and the remaining was to be paid after the admission process.
The mafia could sell the question paper to around 250 students in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, days before the conduct of Eamcet 2 on 9 July. The students who paid the advance were taken by flights to different cities — Bangalore, Pune, Bhubaneswar and Mumbai — and were trained in answering the leaked questions.
The entire scam was unearthed by the cops based on a complaint lodged by a father of a meritorious daughter whose batch mates with lower scores in a coaching center in Vijayawada got higher ranks than her. The father could compare their ranks from two different tests — Eamcet 1, held on 15 May and Eamcet-2, held on 9 July.
“The scam was detected as there were two Eacemts this year and it was possible to compare students’ ranks. But, otherwise, if there was only one test, the scam wouldn’t have been detected in the usual course,” Satyanaraian who commenced the probe in the case told this newspaper. Others in the CID, too, expressed their concerns that the mafia must have perpetrated the same crime many times in the past in many states.
It appears that a wider network that has been benefitted by the medical entrance papers leakage was behind the opposition to the implementation of NEET from this year. Had NEET been made compulsory, the scope for corruption and malpractices in medical entrance tests at the state level would be zero as a centralized exam system would be beyond tampering, said the CID cops.
The CID police who submitted an interim report to the High Court on the Eamcet-2 scam has pointed out some glaring lapses on the part of the JNTU authorities who conducted the test. First, the university has entrusted the task of printing two sets of question papers to Kapoor Printers in Delhi, even though the press was blacklisted till two years ago.
Second was that the university has given both the sets of question papers to the same press, against the usual practice of preferring different presses for the purpose of secrecy. The third lapse was that neither Eamcet-2 convener Ramana Rao nor co-convener Viswanath cared to visit the press while the question papers were printed and distributed to the state.
Some lower rung staff was sent to handle the jobs. This has allowed the mafia to have a free hand in obtaining the copies of the papers and circulating it to the brokers’ network. The CID has grilled the managers and staff of Kapoor Printing Press and confiscated the footage of CCTV cameras, but couldn’t get any vital clues so far.