Himachal exam scam: Police hunt for ‘Munnabhais’

By Vishal Gulati, IANS,

Shimla : It doesn’t happen only in movies! Himachal Pradesh Police have found that more than 200 students in schools across the state cleared their exams without even appearing for them – just like the protagonist of the film “Munnabhai MBBS”.

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The don in the movie played by Sanjay Dutt had cleared a medical entrance test by forcing a doctor to take the exam on his behalf. And the Himachal school students appear to have attempted the same trick with ghost writers – only to have been caught now.

Police found that 208 students, who appeared as private candidates in the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education exams in March for Classes 8, 10, 11 and 12, secured first class without ever appearing for the tests.

The scam came to light last month when a Class 10 student claimed he got a pass certificate without appearing in the board examinations.

Thirteen people have been arrested till date, including board employees and operators of a private educational academy near Dharamsala, in Kangra district.

O.P. Jamwal, the district’s additional superintendent of police, told IANS that suspended government teacher Ashwani Dogra and his colleague Suresh Chaudhry, who were running the private academy, are believed to be the kingpins of the racket.

The duo would ‘hire’ teachers, who wrote answers on duplicate answer sheets, which were then submitted to the board with the help of some employees. Huge sums of money, Jamwal said, exchanged hands in the certificate racket.

“Now we are looking for the ‘ghost writers’ who wrote the papers. The handwriting of the students didn’t match with handwriting on the answer sheets. This shows the involvement of a large number of people,” he added.

The board, meanwhile, has suspended four employees and issued notices to 45 more. These employees were involved in conducting the examination, sending answer sheets for evaluation and despatching pass certificates.

A senior board official said police have already established the fact that the pass certificates were posted to fake addresses and later delivered to the right candidate. The board has hired a private courier company for the delivery of certificates.

“In some cases, the students have deliberately pasted wrong photos. In some cases, police found that the students were actually absent from the examination centres, while their answer sheets were in the actual lot and were marked,” the official said.

The state government has constituted a high-level committee to conduct a probe.

Onkar Sharma, who is heading the committee, said: “The probe is still on. So far, we have found six students who were absent during the examination centres in Bilaspur district. We have also found discrepancies in the examination forms filled by the students and the photos provided by them.”

The Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education has more than 4.5 lakh students on its rolls.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])