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Unending Trail Of Arrests To Crack The NEET Fiasco

| Updated: July 1, 2024 12:08

A day after the arrest of the principal and vice-principal of Oasis School in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh in connection with the alleged paper leak of this year’s National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a Hazaribagh-based journalist Mohd Jamaludin for allegedly helping the two accused. Earlier, the CBI had arrested five members of the “solver gang” based in Nalanda, Bihar, headed by one Sanjeev Kumar.

According to the police, the gang is spread across Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and some other states. Sanjeev had filed an anticipatory bail plea in a Patna court on June 4. With Sanjeev absconding, a hearing in the case is yet to start. The CBI suspects that he has fled to Nepal.

Sanjeev is also accused of leaking other papers. He is more commonly referred to as ‘Sanjeev Mukhiya’, a moniker he got due to his wife Mamata Devi. The mukhiya of Bhuthakhar panchayat in Nalanda between 2016 and 2021, Mamata has been associated with the Janata Dal (United) for nearly a decade.

According to the EOU, Baldev Kumar alias Chintu, of Bihar Shari is suspected to be Sanjeev’s key aide. Investigators suspect that Baldev had received a PDF of the solved paper on a mobile phone being used by him late on May 4, the eve of the NEET-UG exam. Investigators suspect the PDF was sent to a number for which his accomplices used forged documents to obtain a SIM card.

Baldev is accused of forwarding the PDF to two middlemen, Nitish Kumar and Amit Anand, both living in Patna. Nitish and Amit allegedly made photocopies of the PDF and shared it with examinees staying at Learn Boys and Play School, a play school-cum-hostel rented by the gang, in Patna. Nitish and Amit were arrested from Deoghar on June 22.

Patna residents Manish Prakash and Ashutosh Kumar were nabbed by the CBI on June 27 — the agency’s first arrests in the case in Bihar — for renting the play school-cum-hostel for the examinees.

On May 5, Patna Police arrested 11 people, including two other middlemen — Roshan Kumar and Awadhesh Kumar, both Patna residents and close associates of middleman Amit. Among those arrested were four examinees and their parents; Patna resident Sikander Yadavendu, who allegedly introduced the four examinees to the middlemen Nitish and Amit. The four middlemen made arrangements for the four accused examinees to stay at the school. The four accused examinees were given the solved PDF on May 4.

Mukesh Kumar is accused of ferrying four of the accused in his car from one location to another. Mukesh, who belongs to Bihar Sharif’s Muraura village, was living in Patna’s Agam Kuan — the same location as most of the other accused. He was arrested from Deoghar on June 22.

Panku Kumar, Paramjit Singh alias Bittu and Rajiv Kumar alias Karu, all residents of Nalanda district, are accused of providing the gang members with fake mobile SIM cards to facilitate the paper leak. On June 22, the EOU booked the three men in a separate case of cyber crime. Earlier this year, the trio was named as an accused in connection with another paper leak case.

The principal of Gujarat’s Jay Jalaram School in Godhra, Purshottam Sharma was arrested on May 21. The school was a NEET exam centre and Purshottam the superintendent for the May 5 exam. He is accused of conspiring with others, including a teacher at the school, to help some aspirants cheat — their unanswered questions in the OMR sheets were filled up by Purshottam and his accomplice teacher before the set was sealed.

Arrested on May 12, geography teacher Tushar Bhatt is accused of conniving with Purshottam to tamper with OMR sheets submitted by the students after the exam. Tushar is accused of also liaising with two others to prepare the final list of students with whom a “deal had been finalised”. Tushar, who was cornered by the inspection squad of the DEO on the day of the examination, May 5, was carrying two mobile phones containing WhatsApp chats that had the “final list” of 16 of 30 candidates who had approached to cheat in the exam.

Arif Vohra, a former martial arts teacher at the school and Tushar’s acquaintance, was also arrested on May 12. A local from Godhra, Arif was in touch with Gujarat-based aspirants — some of whom are being questioned by the CBI — who wanted to clear the NEET-UG exam with a good rank. Arif is accused of giving Tushar Rs 7 lakh. The amount was seized during the raid on May 5.

The owner of Vadodara-based education immigration company, Roy Overseas, Parshuram Roy is said to be an acquaintance of Tushar. He was in touch with Tushar to allegedly finalise the list of students from outside the state who had chosen the school as their NEET centre. Parshuram is accused of instructing students from Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka and other states to choose Godhra as their centre since Tushar “was in power” to tamper with OMR answer sheets there before they were sealed.

Parshuram was among the 19 persons arrested in connection with the leak of the 2023 Gujarat Panchayat Service Selection Board junior clerk exam paper.

Vibhor Anand Umeshwar Prasad Singh, an education consultant, was arrested on May 20. Having worked closely with Parshuram, he is accused of contacting the parents of NEET-UG aspirants in Jharkhand and Odisha to finalise the deal. Vibhor was a part of the network of education agents who directed students to “relevant” agents for immigration work.

Also Read: 10 Gujarat Universities On Defaulters’ List For Flouting UGC Directive

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