Maharashtra Police Monday arrested three persons with military links in the Army Recruitment Board exam scam, which was partially scrapped following news of a question paper leak. One of the suspects is Lance Naik Mahendra Sonavane, posted in Pune, who was forwarded one of the question papers on his cellphone and had forwarded it to other people. The second person with military links is Ranjeet Jadhav (27) of the BSF. He was posted in Meghalaya but had taken leave to go to Goa where he was suspected to have aided in the question paper leak, Thane police said. The third arrest was of former Armyman Ramappa Patole (48).
The arrests on Monday are the first from within the defence forces. The total number of arrests stands at 21. The Army has started its own inquiry in the case. An officer privy to the investigation said: “The investigation shows it was Sonavane who received the leaked exam paper on his cellphone from the main suspects in the case and he forwarded it to the other suspects arrested in Pune. These suspects forwarded the question papers to candidates and gave them printouts for the answers to be memorised.”
The officer added: “The task now is to find out from whom Sonavane got the question paper. There are some clues which the investigators are working on. They are also trying to find out how so many people came in contact with each other in the racket.” Thane police said the trio, in collusion with some coaching classes which prepared aspirants for Army exams, were running the scam. The police said the 21 persons arrested were those operating at the lower rungs of the racket. The main accused were still to identified, the police said.
The police said they found out that while some owners of coaching classes have been arrested for their direct role in the scam, others were known to have played the role of intermediaries for a commission and “recommend” students to the accused. The accused, mostly comprising agents, would promise aspirants the leaked question papers hours before the exams for Rs 2 lakh each or more. The police said hours before the exams were held, the aspirants would be given the question paper for three hours. The accused would keep the SSC and HSC marksheets of the aspirants with them till they were paid the entire amount.
An officer probing the case said that the 21 accused were produced in the local court that remanded them in police custody till March 4.