Lucknow: The first paper of the UP Provincial Civil Services preliminary examination was cancelled on Monday after it was leaked on social media, triggering violent protests by aspirants who demanded a CBI probe and sacking of the Commission's chairman, even as the STF arrested three persons in connection with the leak. Fresh examination for this paper will be held on May 10, an official announcement said late this evening.
Authorities deployed the Rapid Action Force and the Provincial Armed Constabulary to ease tension in Allahabad which witnessed violent protests. The decision to cancel the first paper was taken after it leaked on Whatsapp messaging service just before the examination was to commence at 9.30 AM on Sunday.
"The General Studies (Paper I) has been cancelled," a senior UP government official said after an emergency meeting convened by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to take stock of the situation.
The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, DG Police A K Jain and some other senior officers, besides UPPSC Chairman Anil Yadav, who was summoned from Allahabad, the headquarters of the Commission.
"The Commission held its meeting this afternoon where, in view of a preliminary inquiry we had conducted into the allegations of question paper leak, it was decided to cancel the examinations for the first paper of the Preliminary exams held yesterday. Now the examinations would be held on May 10", UPPSC Secretary Rizwan-ur-Rahman said in Allahabad.
As the news of the paper leak spread, the DGP immediately handed over the probe to Special Task Force (STF), which swung into action and arrested three persons. A senior STF official said the paper was leaked from Adarsh Bharti Vidyalaya College centre here allegedly by Vishal Mehta, Gyanendra and Jay Singh - all of whom have been arrested.
The three persons allegedly took photographs of the question paper an hour before the examination and it was circulated on Whatsapp. Vishal is the son of Baldev Mehta, Manager of ABV College, which was made PCS exam centre for the first time. About the two others -- Gyanendra and Jay Singh -- arrested by the STF, he said they were invigilators and were on contract.
Around 4.5 lakh candidates had appeared in 917 centres across the state, including 70,000 candidates in Lucknow who took the test in 148 centres.
For the second day, students protested at several places against the paper leak and demanded CBI probe and sacking of the Chairman, whose effigy they torched in Allahabad.
The STF however said that no role of any UPPSC or government official was found in the PCS-preliminary paper leak.
"No role of any officer or employee of Commission or government was found in the paper leakage," IG, STF Sujit Pandey told reporters in Lucknow.
"This is a local matter and the three arrested by the STF have told that they had made the plan two days before the PCS examination," Pandey added.
About the amount at which the question papers were sold, Pandey said that "Rs 1 lakh" was taken for the paper but it could not be ascertained whether the arrested accused got the money.
"It's also not clear as to how many candidates they have sold the papers to," he said.
The three accused would be taken into remand for further probe and all those who got the question papers on WhatsApp would be made accused in the case. As the accused had deleted all their messages on WhatsApp, help of experts would be taken to trace them, Pandey said.
The matter prompted opposition parties to demand a CBI probe and dismissal of UPPSC head, who has been in the eye of a storm since 2013 when a controversial reservation policy was introduced by the UPPSC, favouring caste-based reservations at the preliminary stage itself.
The policy was scrapped following violent agitations and petitions in the Allahabad High Court even as the embarrassed Samajwadi Party government claimed that the UPPSC had acted without taking the government's approval.
Senior cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav said an inquiry would be conducted in PCS paper leak case and stern action would be taken against the guilty.