For Mumbai University, it may seem like deja vu. The eight officials of the University of Mumbai (MU), who were arrested for tampering with answersheets of engineering students to increase marks, used a modus operandi similar to that of a racket busted by the Bandra-Kurla police almost half a decade ago.
In 2011, two temporary staffers of MU were arrested for sneaking in and out of the university answersheets of post-graduate students of engineering.
“The two staffers had been caught red-handed,” said a former controller of examination (CoE) who did not wish to be named. During one of his rounds of the building, the former official said Recalling the incident he had found the behaviour of two staffers suspicious and alerted the security.
As they were leaving the office in the evening, the two staffers had tied the answersheets around their calves and were trying to smuggle them out of the examination centre on the Kalina campus of MU.
The CoE said the top of the answersheets bearing the details of the students would be detached immediately after the sheets were collected from the students after the exam. Therefore, the accused had devised a method to identify the students who had agreed to pay for increased marks. While the eight officials arrested this year used WhatsApp images of hall tickets of students to identify their answersheets, in 2011 students would leave codes or symbols on the answersheets for them to be identified.
Students would draw pre-decided symbols or write names of gods on the last pages of their answersheets. These answersheets are stacked in bundles of 30 at the examination centre. While sorting the answersheets at the centre, the two MU staffers would look for these codes and pull them out. The answersheets would then be handed over to the students.
Once the correct answers were written, the sheets would be returned to their original stacks by these staffers. According to reports, the staffers were paid generously for their roles.
“After they were caught, we handed them over to the police,” said the CoE. They were arrested and the university terminated their contracts, said Rajan Welukar, the then V-C.
The police had filed chargesheets against the accused who are now awaiting trial. Unlike this year’s case where the police seized answersheets of 92 students, reports indicate that answersheets of only three students were seized in 2011.
The students whose answersheets were seized by the police were debarred from exams according to the Ordinance 5050 of the MU, said the CoE.
After the scam was busted, the university administration had decided to up the security of the examination centre and install CCTV cameras inside. “We had installed CCTVs and increased the security. The bags of staffers coming in and going out of the office were frisked,” said the CoE.
After the recent fiasco, a fact-finding committee has reiterated the proposal to the management council for installation of CCTV cameras apart from a control room and intrusion detection software.