March 19, 2020 11:18:03 am
The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry after three bags containing answer sheets of class 10 examination of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) and a few loose answer sheets were recovered from the roadside near Gondal and Virpur towns of Rajkot district on Wednesday morning.
Police action has also been initiated against six persons responsible for the transportation of answer sheets to the evaluation centre. The incident comes a day after the class 10 examinations got over and officers said prima facie the bags were “lost” while being transported to the evaluation centre.
The bags were spotted near Santoshimata temple on National Highway 27 on the outskirts of Gondal town by Bhavesh Jadav, driver of High Bond Cement company staff bus, early in the morning, police said. Noticing that the bags contained answer sheets, he took them with him in the bus and reported the matter to factory manager Ashok Faldu, who, in turn, alerted the media.
On getting information, RS Upadhyay, district education officer (DEO) of Rajkot, rushed to the spot and took possession of the bags. Meanwhile, more loose answer sheets, many of them damaged, were spotted near Ravi Hotel on NH-27 near Virpur village, around 15 km south of Gondal. Many of them were spotted drifting with the wind on the highway. Authorities collected those answer sheets also after being alerted by the public.
“We do not know the exact number of answer sheets recovered yet. GSHSEB officers have recovered three bags and a few lose answer sheets from near Gondal and Virpur. They are preparing a report on the recovery. If they register a complaint, we shall register an offence,” said Rana Bhojani, police sub-inspector of Virpur.
Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “An inquiry committee has been constituted under director schools Mukesh Pandya to investigate the reasons and the manner in which these answer sheets were recovered from the road. Also, to probe if it was an intentional attempt to tamper with the answer sheets and how many sheets were recovered…”
Confirming police action against six, a statement by the GSHSEB stated, “These answer sheets were to reach to the evaluation centre. For this, two teachers from Mehsana district, two police guard and two drivers were deputed… Police action is being taken against all of them for gross negligence… ”
An official with the education department confirmed a few answer sheets of science and technology subject were missing. “Total four bags were missing of which three have been recovered with their seals intact. We have also recovered 30 to 32 lose answer sheets while the rest (from the fourth bag) are missing,” said the officer.
The officer further said that the matter came to light around 6.30 am on Tuesday and prima facie the bags went missing while they were being transported to an evaluation centre. “Two teachers and two policeman were accompanying the consignment. But they did not report any bag having gone missing. Therefore, we shall file an FIR against the teachers, policemen and the drivers of the bus in which the answer sheets were being transported,” added the officer.
The answer sheets were meant to be delivered to Jalaramji Vidyalaya in Virpur for evaluation. “However, instead, the bus directly went to Keshod in Junagadh for delivering answer sheets of Gujarati subject,” said a source in the GSHSEB.
DEO Upadhyay said the incident was an accident. “Prima facie it looks like the answer sheets fell off the bus from the window. We have taken possession of the answer sheets. We also thank the driver of the factory for demonstrating alertness and noticing the answer sheets,” said Upadhyay.
Later in the day, Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja handed over the investigation into the case to the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) Ahmedabad city. In a statement he said that “while disciplinary action has already been taken, strict legal action will also be taken against all those responsible for putting students’ future at stake”.
“Thus, the non-cognisable offence registered at Rajkot rural police station has been transferred with immediate effect to the deputy commissioner of police, DCB Ahmedabad city,” the statement said.
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