The Pune City Police recently arrested an absconding accused in connection to a 2018 State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) exam racket, in which the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system was rigged during a recruitment drive. Investigators have said further probe will bring to light the involvement of some more senior police officers.
In May last year, an FIR was registered at Wanawadi police station. and according to the FIR, the racketeers reportedly took money from 30 candidates, who had appeared for the written test for the exam in March last year, and rigged the system to assign higher marks to them. After the racket was revealed, the SRPF suspended the recruitment process and conducted a fresh one later.
The scam in Pune came to light after a similar racket was busted by the Nanded District Police, who arrested 14 people, including two police personnel and two employees of a company in Pune, in connection to a scam to rig the OMR system in a police recruitment drive in Nanded. An offence was also registered in Hingoli district for the police recruitment process around the same time. Investigators in all the three cases — Nanded, Pune and Hingoli — are probing the same set of suspects.
The probe was later handed over to Pune City Police’s Crime Branch, which arrested two SRPF constables and two persons from the firm who were part of the OMR checking system.
Since then, the investigating team has been in search of three key accused in the case — alleged mastermind Pravin Bhatkar and his aides Bhushan Deulkar and Tejas Nemade, all linked to the Pune-based academic solutions company which was given the contract for conducting the exam.
Two days ago, police received information that Bhatkar was going to visit Amravati to attend the post-death ritual of a family member. When a team was sent to Amravati to Bhatkar’s house, police found his aide Nemade instead. Nemade was arrested and produced before a court in Pune, which remanded him in police custody till May 24.
Senior inspector Dattatray Chavan of Unit 5 of the Crime Branch, who is probing the case, said, “… We have reasons to believe that some more police officers — even officers till the rank of inspector — may have been involved. We are continuing our search for the two absconding accused and after their arrests, we will be able to identify the police officials who were part of the conspiracy.”
In March and April last year, the Nanded District Police had started digging into the results of the examination after they found that 13 candidates had scored exceptionally high marks, between 90 to 100. When the question papers of these students were checked, it was found that they had not done any calculations to solve the questions.
The investigation revealed that the employees of the Pune-based company, who were given the answer-sheets of the candidates, had later filled up the blank spaces left by candidates during the exams. They had marked the correct answers based on the question paper keys provided to them by the police.