The Bhiwandi police on Thursday arrested the owner of a private coaching class for sharing Class 10 question papers with students minutes before their board exams. The arrest comes a day after the police registered a first information report (FIR) after a school in the area reported possible leaks of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) question papers on March 14. Just hours after the police registered the case on Wednesday, the same day’s history and political science question paper was reportedly circulated on social messaging apps. The FIR was filed after Bhiwandi-based Samvad Foundation reported a first possible leak to the education board.
Govind Sharma, the founder of the institute, sent an email to the divisional board after members of his organisation got question papers of exams held that week.
Screenshots showed the Algebra paper, scheduled for 11am on March 11 was circulated at 10.13am, 45 minutes before students wrote the exam. The organisation also sent emails hinting at possible leaks of the science 1 and 2 papers, held on March 15 and March 18.
Officials at the divisional board did not approach the Bhiwandi police until late on Tuesday. The board has so far also refused to label the cases question paper leaks. “We still do not know if a lot of people got the paper, as the police are investigating the case. Only after we know that can we say something,” said Sharad Khandagale, secretary, Mumbai divisional board. On Wednesday, Sharma said he and several colleagues received the history paper on their phones from 10.10am; the exams begin at 11am. “We have informed the board and the police and have also given them the screenshots that we got,” Sharma said. The board’s flying squad also caught three students with their mobile phones before entering an examination hall in Bhiwandi. “Outside the exam centre, a board official found a few girls checking their phones inside an autorickshaw. The students were supposed to be in the exam hall by 10:15am,” said MB Shinde, senior inspector of Narpoli police station, Bhiwandi.
After the arrest, Ankit Goel, DCP, Bhiwandi, Thane said, “We followed the trail of messages that were found in the students’ phones. We have arrested the coaching class owner and will continue with our investigation. We need to reach the source of the leak.” The police will now also find out how many students have received the question papers.
Question papers are usually transported from the divisional office to custodies in each area a day before exams.From there, the papers are sent off on the day of the exams to their centres. Examiners break the question paper seal and distribute papers to students 10 minutes before the exam begins.
The board has now asked all flying squads to tighten vigilance across centres in the region.