Saturday, November 27, 2021

Maharashtra army paper leak: ‘Got calls from unknown number; didn’t respond first time, they called again’

Candidate who purchased leaked papers wonders how did the callers get his number; cops say paper likely to have been leaked from Nagpur

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Sushant Kulkarni | Mumbai |
March 1, 2017 1:54:40 am

ONE OF the 350 candidates who were found “preparing” for the Army recruitment examination with the help of leaked question paper has spoken out about how calls from unidentified numbers a day before the papers and the murmurs of papers being leaked “almost all the time” led to him getting involved in the scam.

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As many as 21 people, including a Border Security Force (BSF) official, an Army man and owners of some coaching institutes, have been arrested by the Thane police after raids were conducted in Pune, Nagpur and Goa. As many as 350 candidates were found in possession of the leaked question papers hours before the examinations were scheduled to take place on February 26.

The police have meanwhile found out that the paper could have been leaked from Nagpur. Probes being conducted by the police and the Army have revealed a name, Ravindra Kumar, who is suspected to be the person who clicked images of the question paper in Nagpur and sent it to several people via WhatsApp in return for money. The Thane police said three more Army personnel were likely to be arrested in the next few days.

A 20-year-old from Beed, who is one of the 350 candidates found taking advantage of the leaked paper, explained how the scam played out. “I had cleared my medical and physical tests in December. The final round of the written test was on Sunday. I along with candidates from across Maharashtra and a few from Punjab and Haryana reached the exam centre in Pune Saturday. Around afternoon, I got a call on my mobile phone from an unknown number. The caller told me he had some work with me and asked me to meet up,” he told The Indian Express.

The 20-year-old said he did not respond the first time but soon received another call. He said he had an inkling of what was in store and reached the spot, where a man came in an Innova car. “The person told me that they wanted to give me the question paper. They said I would need to pay around Rs 2.5 lakh for it. I had heard of several people who had managed to clear this paper after getting access to the question paper before hand. Hence, I was not surprised. Having failed to clear the paper the last time, I agreed to the deal. Since the amount had to be paid later, I thought we will put our farm on lease to make the payment. I did not tell my parents anything about it. And now everything is lost,” said the aspirant.

He said all other candidates among the 350 had either got calls in a similar manner or were approached in person. “How did they get our numbers? How come our details were given out to these people? Obviously, there is some insider involved,” said the youth.

The Thane police are currently in the process of recording statements of these 350 people. “We have still not decided whether to charge them in the case or make them witnesses. We suspect the Army too will take action against them,” said a police officer.

The police said their probe had found the involvement of three other Armymen, who they said were likely to be arrested in the next few days.

Talking about the Nagpur link to the scam, an Army official privy to the details of the case said in Pune: “One of the arrested suspects in the case, Santosh Shinde, who runs a training centre for the Army recruitment aspirants, has told during his interrogation that he received the question paper from one Ravindra Kumar from Nagpur. Shinde has also said that he even made a large cash payment to Ravindra Kumar.”

The officer added: “The identity of this Ravindra Kumar is being verified, whether he is someone serving with the Army or any other defence establishment. There are two other possibilities — that Santosh Shinde is misguiding the investigators or the man who met him has used a fake name while communicating with him.”

The Army authorities had said Monday a probe would be conducted into the matter. Sources said a senior officer from the Southern Command would head the Court of Inquiry. “The inquiry will not just probe the perpetrators within the establishment but also find out the loopholes in the systems which the suspects took advantage of,” said an Army officer.

The 21 arrested people will remain in police custody till March 4.

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