CBI sends audio clip for test in Himachal constable recruitment exam leak

Editor's ChoiceCBI sends audio clip for test in Himachal constable recruitment exam leak

Over 75,000 aspirants for constables’ post in Himachal Pradesh Police had appeared in the exam last year.

New Delhi

In the Himachal Pradesh constable examination paper leak case, the CBI is sending for forensic tests an audio clip in which some aspirants are allegedly heard discussing that an agent is demanding Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh each from candidates to ensure that they clear the written test held on 27 March last year. Before the case was shifted to the CBI, the state police had arrested an engineer and an income tax officer, in addition to 169 people in connection with the paper leak.

A 17-page purported transcript of the conversation between students mentions that the gang of paper leakers had set a target of tapping 25 job aspirants and keep their original Class 10 and Class 12 documents as security till the execution of the entire deal, sources said.

Investigators are trying to verify if the alleged telephonic conversation is genuine and whether it was indeed held three days before the examination. Employees of the printing press where the question paper of the recruitment examination was printed are also under the scanner for allegedly working in league with the kingpin of the scam.

After registering an FIR on 17 August in the case of alleged irregularities in the examination, the CBI investigators are also planning to record the statement of the whistle-blower in the case, Gaurav Kumar, 26. a resident of Arki in Solan district, who had cleared the examination whose results were declared on 5 April 2022.

Gaurav had written a letter to Himachal police to inquire if there was a genuine conspiracy to leak the examination paper or if the audio tape had deliberately been circulated to get the examination declared null and void. Over 180 mobile phones, half a dozen laptops and hard discs that were recovered by the Himachal police after Gaurav Kumar’s complaint are also likely to be sent to the CFSL for tests, CBI sources said.

At the initial stage, investigations into the paper leak scam had pointed toward the network of this job scam being spread across 10 states. Three gangs based in UP, Haryana and Bihar allegedly coordinated their efforts to sell the answer key to the question paper. Some of the job aspirants who allegedly fell into the trap of the scamsters belong to Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand.

In some cases, the bribe was allegedly transferred by the job seekers electronically and state police are likely to hand over evidence related to these transactions to the CBI. Over 75,000 aspirants for constables’ post in Himachal Pradesh Police had appeared in the recruitment examination last year. Out of these, 25,000 had cleared the examination. However, when the alleged paper leak assumed political colour, the state government cancelled the examination.

The employees of the printing press where the question paper was printed allegedly established links with private coaching institutes and other examination leak agents who arranged the phone numbers of the job aspirants and contacted them individually, offering them answer key to the examination.

The CBI unit in Chandigarh has now registered an FIR under penal sections dealing with public mischief (505 IPC) and common intention (34 IPC), against unknown persons. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who assumed office in December 2022, had supported a growing public demand to transfer the case, which unfolded during the tenure of the previous state government, to the CBI.

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