A university peon gets a WhatsApp image of hall ticket of a student who recently took his engineering examination. Since the answersheets do not bear names of students any more, he uses the hall ticket number to search the corresponding answer paper kept at the Mumbai University (MU) Examination House in Kalina. He hands it over to an agent with an instruction that he wants it back in 24 hours.
The agent gives the answersheet to the student, who copies the correct answers from a textbook in blank spaces he had deliberately left while writing the exams.
The answer papers are then handed back to the peon, who stores it back in the exam office.
Broadly, that was how a scam allegedly went on at MU. It was finally busted on Saturday by Bhandup police after one of their constables received a tip-off that a 22-year-old Bhandup resident was part of this racket.
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At a press meet on Saturday, DCP Sangramsinh Nishandar (Zone VI) said eight suspects had been arrested for cheating and other offences. They were produced before a local court, which remanded them in police custody until May 25.
An officer said while they would not arrest the 92 students whose answer papers were seized during a raid, they would be chargesheeted as beneficiaries.
“We raided the address given by the informer and found answer papers of Applied Maths-I, for which the exams were held on May 11. An agent was staying there,” Sub-Inspector Shivshankar Bhosle said. Upon questioning, the agent, himself a student, reportedly confessed to being part of the racket. He led the police to eight university officials. The probe has for now revealed that each student has paid anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000. The trail finally led to the security personnel employed by MU, three clerks and four peons.
Those arrested are Prabhakar Vaze (50), the security hawaldar employed by MU; clerks Sandeep Jadhav (28), Rohan More (25) and Siddhesh Jadhav (26); and peons Dinkar Mhatre (34), Mithun More (28), Chiman Solanki (41) and Sanjay Kumbhar (24).
According to the police, Vaze, who was entrusted with the job of keeping the papers safely by Mumbai University, is the key accused.
In 2011, a similar racket had been busted by the BKC police, which led to the arrest of several university officials. Then, too, engineering papers had been smuggled in and out of the university in a similar manner. While the then Controller of Examinations had said that CCTVs would be installed at examination house, the proposal is still pending.
A police officer said the scam started when one of the students had gone to the university for some work. “The MU employee (one of the arrested accused) told him that if he wanted to get anyone clear the exam, he could get it done – for a fee,” Bhosale said. The student in turn told his friends. Soon, the word spread among other students.
The majority of the 92 suspect answer sheets seized during the police raid were from examination centres in Airoli and Komothe, and the police suspect agents were operating in Navi Mumbai as well.
“These (92) were the answer sheets we found with them. There must have been many answer sheets that they would have already stolen and put them back,” Senior Inspector Sripad Kale said. “One of the accused has revealed that they have been doing this for the past two years. If what they are saying is true, imagine the number of students who benefited from this,” an officer said.
Deepak Wasave, controller of examination at MU, said the arrested accused faced suspension. He said security at the university would be improved and CCTV cameras installed.