Hyderabad: It cost them ₹ 30-40 lakh. For that amount of money, the students laid their hands on two sets of question papers for their medical entrance examination—48 hours before any of their peers.
The Engineering Agricultural and Medical Common Entrance Test (Eamcet), is the entry door to bachelor of medicine and surgery (MBBS) and bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) courses in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. About 50,900 candidates took a shot at 2,650 MBBS and BDS seats up for grabs this year, making the medical entrance exam an intensely competitive one.
If not for some alert parents, the cheating students would have enrolled in good medical schools, and who knows, maybe, one day, become doctors. The Telangana crime investigation department (CID) confirmed the paper leak on Thursday and submitted a report to chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.
At the centre of this brazen plot is Bengaluru-based Rajagopal Reddy, a repeat offender who was also the brain behind the leak of post-graduate medical entrance exam paper in 2014 in what was then a united Andhra Pradesh. Telangana was carved out of erstwhile AP in June 2014.
The two states have been conducting separate competitive exams for admission to undergraduate courses in engineering, medicine and agriculture. This leak pertains to the exam (Eamcet 2) conducted by Telangana on 9 July.
Ironically, if not for erstwhile AP’s bifurcation and ambiguity arising out of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), the leak would not have come to light. Telangana conducted a second Eamcet examination this year following confusion over seat quota allotment for NEET. The first exam (Eamcet-1) was conducted on 15 May.
Parents of some students smelt a rat when students who secured five digit ranks in the medical entrance exam conducted by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (Eamcet-I) secured two-digit and three-digit ranks in Telangana’s Eamcet-II.
When suspecting parents approached Hyderabad-based Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), which conducted the entrance test, the varsity filed a police complaint. A CID probe was ordered on 20 July.
CID officials grilled some suspects, who revealed the plot.
According to the CID investigation, about 25 students were taken to camps set up in five cities 2-3 days before the exam. Quoting an unnamed police official, The Times of India reported that six students were escorted to secret locations outside Telangana. The brokers took the students to Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kanigiri in Andhra Pradesh by flight or road.
Mobile phones of the students were reportedly confiscated by the brokers to prevent word and questions from getting out. Around the same time that their peers would have been suffering from exam anxiety, these students were busy cramming answers to 320 questions.
For the fee they were charged, the students even had the luxury of getting answers to the leaked questions. They didn’t even have to take the trouble of looking them up.
The leak is reminiscent of exam cheating cases across the country. A toppers scam in Bihar, where some toppers of Class XII state board exams couldn’t even answer basic syllabus questions of the subjects they had ‘topped’, evoked ridicule. A March 2015 photograph of parents and friends of students scaling the building of a test centre in Bihar to pass notes/cheatsheets to students giving secondary school examination was met with shock and derision.
Over 2,000 people have been arrested in Madhya Pradesh in so-called Vyapam scam, in which competitive exams for government jobs and the pre-medical test were compromised through question paper leaks, copying, impersonation and manipulation of answer sheets and records.
Two persons have been arrested by Telangana CID in the Eamcet 2 leak so far. The police have identified brokers and sub-brokers belonging to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Bengaluru.
It is not clear whether the Telangana government would order a repeat of Eamcet 2. A re-exam would mean a third entrance test in a year. Some parents and students, who secured decent ranks in Eamcet 2, staged a protest outside the state secretariat on Thursday demanding a re-exam not be conducted. They wanted the government to disqualify students who resorted to irregularities, according to a report in the New Indian Express.