Updated: May 16, 2022 7:21:03 am
“They didn’t even let me take this into the examination hall,” says Manish Regar, pointing to a metal buckle on his black baseball cap.
Waiting to take a bus home at the Vidhyadhar Nagar stadium, the 23-year-old talks incredulously about the strict security measures in place for the constable recruitment exam which began Friday.
“They didn’t allow this full-sleeved shirt I was wearing either,” says Regar, as lathi-wielding policemen from the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary stand guard.
This year, the test conducted by the Rajasthan Police has been spread over four days and 470 centres across the state to accommodate around 19 lakh candidates who, just like Regar, are hoping to get a job.
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And with the sting of last year’s Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers exam or REET still not forgotten, security measures have been stepped up.
Apart from the usual screening for prohibited items, this year candidates had to go through a biometric identification system. And jammers block mobile phone signals in and around the venue, with the government desperate to avoid a REET-like situation.
Held last September, the REET exam was nullified after it was found that the question paper had been leaked just two days before the test and sold for Rs 1 crore. This happened despite the government suspending internet services in several parts of the state to prevent cheating — a move that earned the government severe flak.
The REET scandal had come as a major embarrassment for the ruling Congress, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot removing the chairman of the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE) which conducted the test.
What was more embarrassing was that those arrested for leaking the paper included officials deputed by the RBSE to oversee the test.
This time around, as free bus services ferried candidates to and from their respective exam centres, caution remains high.
ADG (Recruitment and Promotion Board) Binita Thakur says apart from installing mobile jammers, only police personnel and invigilators have been allowed to be present inside the exam centres.
With a digital biometric system in place too, she says, candidates, particularly women, have been instructed not to have mehandi or ink on their hands.
With REET scheduled to be held again this year, the Rajasthan Assembly in March passed The Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Bill, 2022, which allows for a 10-Year jail besides Rs 10 crore fine for those caught cheating in government recruitment exams.
However, incidents of gangs indulging in unfair means during examinations have continued.
On Friday, as the constable recruitment exam began, police in Bhiwandi arrested two people for allegedly duping candidates by offering to show them the question paper for Rs 15 lakh.
Back at the bus stand near Vidhyadhar Nagar stadium, a candidate has lost his wallet and an announcer makes a fervent appeal on the mic.
“There was nothing much in the wallet but family photos. Please return it. Bhawnaaon ke samman karein (please respect sentiments).”
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