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How CBI Officers Busted Nationwide Naval Clerk Recruitment Scam

The Mumbai Mirror has published an account of how the kingpin of the Naval clerk recruitment scam Ramvir Singh Rawat, a former sailor, ran at least 15 recruitment agencies throughout India for the last several
PTI September 28, 2010 9:43 IST
The Mumbai Mirror has published an account of how the kingpin of the Naval clerk recruitment scam Ramvir Singh Rawat, a former sailor, ran at least 15 recruitment agencies throughout India for the last several years, and had raked in several hundreds of crores of rupees.

Two senior naval officers have been arrested in this nationwide recruitment racket after a two-day operation to prove that question papers were indeed being leaked.  

At 10.30 am on Sunday at Kohli Stadium in Navy Nagar, among thousands taking an examination for a clerical job with the Navy, there were two officers from the CBI. Switching careers wasn't on their mind; they were at the venue under cover in order to uncover a nationwide defence recruitment scam.

The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested two administrative officers from the Naval Dockyard for leaking the question paper for the Navy's Lower Divisional Clerk (LDC) post after a two-day operation that demanded some wily moves and quick thinking on their part. By Sunday night, the CBI had conducted eight separate raids across Mumbai and Delhi to gather more evidence.

The case threatens to open a can of worms in the Indian Navy. According to the CBI, the naval officers leaked the question paper to a placement agency, run by a former sailor, which charged anything between Rs 15,000 and Rs 50,000 from candidates across the country. Two or three days before the test, the agency gathered the candidates in a hotel near the examination centre, where a primary school teacher helped them solve the paper. This year, about 35,000 candidates had applied for 175 vacancies. However, 145 of the applicants already had the question paper.

The Raid

The CBI received information on the scam two days before the candidates arrived in Mumbai. A team of officers under DySP K Babu and DIG Praveen Salunkhe scanned the Crawford Market area for them. They found that while all lodges were vacant, one guest house – United Lodge – was completely booked.

An officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “We tried to get a room in this lodge but the owner refused us saying it was up to capacity for the next few days. This convinced us that the candidates were being kept here. We hired a room in a lodge on the opposite side and kept a watch on the movements at United. We noticed that the candidates were not allowed to go outside and two people kept a constant watch on them and also guarded the lodge.”

On Saturday night, a few hours before the test, a 15-member CBI team raided the lodge at about 11.30 pm. “We found about 138 candidates being tutored by Hoshiyar Singh Rawat, a teacher with a government primary school in Haryana. We arrested him and recovered all the question papers and answer keys. We also recovered Rs 1.85 lakh in cash from him,” said a CBI officer.

Hard Evidence

This raid, however, was not enough to nail the culprits. The officers needed proof that the question paper was identical to the one leaked by them. The CBI team did some smart strategising.

“If news of the raid got out, it would have alerted the naval officers. So we took the students into confidence and recorded their statements. We assured them that nothing would happen to them. We asked them to appear for the exam without telling anyone about the raid,” said the officer. Meanwhile, the team prepared fake hall tickets for a couple of its young members and sent them to take the test with other candidates. “We did this to procure the question paper so we could tally the original with the ones we had seized. The papers were indeed identical,” said the officer.

The Arrests

To make matters easy for the CBI, the Naval Dockyard administrative officer RC Naik, who leaked the paper, was at the venue of the test. “We arrested him immediately,” said the officer. The CBI then arrested another officer D S Murthy and the kingpin Rambir Singh Rawat and recovered several question papers from them.

CBI sources say that it was the overconfidence of kingpin Rawat that did him in. The former sailor has been running close to 15 defence recruitment agencies across the country since he resigned a few years ago.

CBI believes that Rambir has been running the scam for years now. Last month he got papers leaked through the Eastern Naval Dockyard administrative officer DS Murthy for a similar examination for 400 vacancies.

“He has done it so many times that he did not fear the police. Some of his associates warned him not to go about the scam so openly. But he always said, ‘If any agency comes to know of this, I will buy it out,” said the officer.

Modus Operandi

Explaining the racket's modus-operandi, Joint Director (CBI) Rishiraj Singh said, “Naik took a copy of the question paper on his pen drive while it was being printed in Pune. He gave the paper to Rambir who along with Murthy made several copies of the paper.” Salunkhe, who headed the operation, said, “Rawat was ingenious. He had various packages – Rs 50,000 for the question paper and Rs 4 lakh for direct recruitment. We suspect there could be more cases and several other officers involved.”