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Depressingly, no sooner had the dust on the prestigious Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) anomalies had settled down than another major recruitment scam, this time the Police Sub-Inspector recruitment irregularity owing to its question paper leakage, has rocked the state.  This unsavoury development unfolding does lead to a speculation that a powerful vested interest circle running the racket must have affected the transparency and sanctity of a recruitment board by putting up jobs for money or leaking question papers.  Prima facie it appears that this well-orchestrated racketeering can seldom drag on for a long period of time without the cue or secret connivance of those who are at the helm of affairs. It is true that the incumbent state government has done a superlative job vis-a-vis carrying on a thorough investigation of the APSC examination scam accusing the previous Congress Government.

But what is unfortunate is that the probe could not till date blame it on any high-up and political heavyweights in power beyond the APSC Chairman inspite of the alleged gross irregularities in its recruitment examinations. However, the current incident of the SI recruitment anomalies has also left many people including thousands of aspiring candidates, wondering about if the ongoing probe into the scam will come to a logical end in the immediate future!

           Notably, the main opposition Congress party on October 5 staged a strong protest across Assam against the State Police SI recruitment scam. Demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, GCDCC President Kushal Kr. Sarma said, “The BJP-led government has restricted the investigation into the scam to the BJP leader Diben Deka and former DIG PK Dutta. If the investigation is conducted in an impartial manner than several big fishes will be exposed. Thus, we demand a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Gauhati High Court”.

            Question paper leak for any recruitment test is a serious offence in the eyes of law that goes without saying. Those who are involved in the scam should be promptly brought to book. Staving off this kind of leakage of question paper for the written test pertaining to the Government’s recruitment process for filling up posts in various government departments is a challenging job because the process itself is far flawless.  But the authorities’ failure to prevent such anomalies in the written test for the recruitment to the posts of Sub-Inspectors in the Assam Police has not only brought disrepute to the government but also sent out wrong message, besides leaving thousands of prospective candidates flummoxed and dejected. The Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was immediately informed about the paper being leaked and he ordered cancellation of the examination.

              The written examination for the recruitment of 597 Sub-Inspectors in the State Police was scheduled to be held at 154 centres across the State from 12 noon to 3 pm on September 20; and the question papers reportedly had four sets. Around 66,000 candidates appeared for the examination. The question paper leak was revealed when the Chairman of the State-level Police Recruitment Board Pradip Kumar reportedly divulged that he received a WhatsApp message containing a set of question papers. When the questions set featuring on it corresponded to the real question paper, it was intelligible that the question paper for the said examination got leaked.  Immediately, thereafter, all necessary instructions were given to stop the examinations at all centres. One wonders, when the question papers were all in the custody of police till the examination started at 12 PM, how it could be leaked. Moreover, even before the start of the examination, the question papers were taken from Guwahati to district headquarters amid tight security.  

              Finally, it was speculated that the paper leak case is the outcome of the sequence of events taking place over a period of time before the day of the test. The SLPRB Chairman Pradip Kumar on September 27, six days after the paper leak, tendered his resignation owning more responsibility for the entire incident. Palpably not happy over the incident, the DGP BJ Mahanta in a recent letter to the Chief Secretary, Assam, stated that SLPRB Chairman did not hold a single meeting of the board about the preparations for holding the examinations. According to a report, the board used to get the question papers printed outside the State to avoid any irregularities. If it did so, then how could Dutta and Deka get their hands on the question papers must have puzzled everyone.  

            Gratifyingly, a number of arrests have already been made in connection with the recruitment scam with the supposed mastermind of the racket being the retired DIG PK Dutta. A bit surprising though it may seem, the investigation into the racket has ballooned into a high-voltage drama with the name of former DIG Dutta, who was evading arrest for a few days, figuring in the scam. Ever since Dutta had absconded, the State Police announced Rs 1 Lakh cash each for anyone providing information regarding the whereabouts of the absconding former DIG and BJP leader Diban Deka, the two prime-accused in the SI (Unarmed Branch) recruitment test paper leak case. Police was since keeping a strict eye on the Indo-Nepal border, as Dutta’s son-in-law resides in that country. Dutta as per the information gathered by the police during the course of investigation is the prime accused in the scam as the chain via which the question papers were doled out through WhatsApp before the examination was his mobile phone from which it emanated. Although it is not yet ascertained of how much money he had earned from the scam, as per media reports, he has allegedly accumulated properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. Dutta who was arrested on October 6 from the Indo-Nepal border was produced before the Court of Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Metro) on October 8 which remanded him to six-day police custody. IGP (CID) Surendra Kumar disclosed that from the residence and hotels of PK Dutta, CID seized a number of incriminating documents concerning the scam. On October 13, Dutta was sent to 14-day judicial custody after his remand period with the CID ended.

Dwaipayan Dasgupta

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