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  4. OPINION | NTA’S CLAIM THAT NEET PAPER WAS NOT LEAKED: FACT OR FICTION?

OPINION | NTA’S CLAIM THAT NEET PAPER WAS NOT LEAKED: FACT OR FICTION?

On Thursday, the NTA had told the apex court that it has cancelled grace marks given to 1,563 candidates, and they have been asked to appear for retest on June 23.

Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Published on: June 14, 2024 15:42 IST
India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma
Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre and National Testing Agency on a petition seeking a CBI probe into allegations of question paper leak and other irregularities in the NEET-UG exam. The vacation bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Sandeep Mehta, while hearing a PIL filed by Hiten Singh Kashyap, said the petition will be taken up with all other pending petitions on July 8, after the summer vacation was over. On Thursday, the NTA had told the apex court that it has cancelled grace marks given to 1,563 candidates, and they have been asked to appear for retest on June 23. However, parents of protesting NEET candidates said, cancelling grace marks of these students will not solve the problem. They alleged that NEET question paper was leaked in several cities, and the entire exam should be conducted afresh. This seems to be the only solution.  But NTA officials are unwilling to admit that there has been any instances of question paper leak. 

India TV reporters in Bihar and Gujarat investigated complaints of paper leak and found them to be concrete. In my prime time TV show AAJ KI BAAT on India TV, we gave details about two such complaints. In both the cases, the local police have already registered FIRs and have arrested some of the accused. The first case is from Patna’s Shastri Nagar. Police got information about a car with Jharkhand number plate moving near an exam centre. On checking the vehicle, copies of admit cards of some candidates were found. The four candidates were questioned after the exam. It was found that all four of them were shown NEET question paper a day before the exam in a house in Patna, and were asked to memorize the answers. The candidates got the same question paper during the exam. The students said, this question paper was given to 20 to 25 students, and in order to keep the matter secret, all the students were kept confined in a rented house in Patna, a day before the exam. After the students memorized the answers, the leaked question paper was burnt in order to remove all evidences. Patna Police arrested four students Ayush Kumar, Anurag Yadav, Shivnandan Kumar and Abhishek Kumar, and on the basis of interrogation, nine others involved in the paper leak were arrested. 

In all, 13 persons were arrested in Patna alone on charge of NEET paper leak. The surprising part is that, the case of paper leak was registered on May 5 itself, the day NEET exam was conducted. All the accused were produced in court and sent to jail, and the matter was handed over for investigation to Economic Offences Unit of Bihar Police. And yet, NTA officials claim that the question paper was not leaked. The incident in Godhra, Gujarat, is astonishing. A day before the NEET exam, it was alleged that the question paper has been leaked on Telegram channel.  According to police, a local BJP leader in Godhra hatched a conspiracy in connivance with a school principal and a coaching school owner from Vadodara. They took help from a school teacher who was acting as exam coordinator for NEET. Candidates from Odisha, Jharkhand and Karnataka were called to Godhra by the Vadodara coaching school owner. Rs 10 lakh was collected from each candidate for leaking the question paper. At the Jalaram School in Godhra, where the NEET exam was conducted, the school principal Purushottam Sharma and a teacher Tushar Bhatt asked the candidates to leave those questions blank, for which they had no correct answers. Tushar Bhatt was supposed to fill up the answer sheets after the exam, but meanwhile, news leaked out about the question paper leak. The District Education Officer of Godhra called in the police, who recovered Rs 7 lakh cash from a car parked outside the school. Police have arrested the Vadodara coaching school owner Parshuram Rai, the Godhra school principal, teacher and the local BJP leader Arif Vohra. Godhra SP Himanshu Solanki said, police took action before the paper was leaked and all the accused were rounded up. Looking at both these cases, I find it surprising how NTA has been claiming that the NEET exam was conducted in a foolproof manner. India TV investigations tell a different story from two different cities. The Panchmahals SP has given proof of how a gang was working to leak the question paper. Thirteen people were arrested in Patna and sent to jai. Police have their confessional statements. 

Can NTA still claim that there was no bungling? The same NTA, till Wednesday, was justifying granting of grace marks, but a day later it admitted that granting of grace marks was a mistake. Can NTA give guarantee that its mode of conducting exam was foolproof? Can NTA give guarantee that the manner of declaring results was foolproof? Our investigations clearly show that the conduct of NEET-UG exam by NTA was not foolproof. There was full scope of bungling. Yesterday, I had mentioned how 67 candidates, in one go, obtained 100 per cent marks. All these exposes nail NTA’s claims. I would like to assure all students that India TV will be with them in their fight for justice. India TV shall continue to investigate the matter further. Since the matter is now before the Supreme Court, we should wait for its final verdict. We should repose our trust in the Supreme Court. I am confident that the students would get justice from the apex court.

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