What is scale of the toppers scam?
It started with three Class XII toppers. A fourth student, daughter of Vishun Roy College principal Amit Kumar a.k.a. Bachcha Rai, was named in the FIR because her answer-sheets were found in the board’s office although she was shown absent in the examination hall. After the SIT [special investigation team] was formed, we lodged an FIR against seven persons including the four students at Kotwali police station because the Bihar State Education Board office is at Kotwali. People are creating a big issue about police booking the toppers but we have gathered strong evidence on how each of them knew he or she was part of the conspiracy to make them a topper. The principal’s daughter and the arts topper seem to have written their answers afresh after the exam was held in the hall; their answer-sheets are in neat handwriting, which is usually not possible in a time-bound examination. The deal between principal Bachcha Rai and then board chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad was to send the result of the former’s daughter for scrutiny and declare her science topper ahead of the other two science toppers.
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Who are the kingpins?
Prasad who has had to resign as board chairman, his wife Usha Sinha who is a former JD(U) MLA, and principal Rai are the kingpins. The racket could have been going on for some years; we have focused only the current year’s result. Prasad admitted during interrogation in front of the principal that Usha Sinha had taken Rs 15 lakh from Rai to declare his daughter science topper and the other girl arts topper. This year, Rai got G A College of Vaishali as his favoured examination centre. We have arrested GA College principal Shail Kumari after an inspection revealed several anomalies such as some stacks of answer-sheets without the mandatory serial numbers. These answer-sheets with manually written serial numbers were attributed to declared toppers and high rankers. While the evaluation centres for most Vaishali colleges were in Bhojpur, Rai influenced Prasad and Usha Sinha to get his college’s answer-sheets evaluated at Rajkiya Balak Vidyalaya in Patna. This centre connived with the board in tampering with the results. Two members of the college management have been arrested. So far, we have arrested 20 people including Prasad and board secretary Hariharnath Jha. There could be over a dozen more arrests as fresh revelations are coming out every day from the interrogation of the accused.
How were the results tampered?
Prasad got the answer-sheets of the three toppers and Rai’s daughter from the strongroom of the evaluation centre without a formal order and got at least two of the toppers to write fresh answers. Even the chairman cannot take an answer-sheet out of the strongroom without written correspondence citing specific reasons. But two functionaries of the evaluation centre have alleged that Prasad threatened them and took four answer-sheets away. The answer-sheets were found with the corners of pages torn out and new serial numbers written. Second, the neat, organised answers in the answer-sheets of the arts topper and Rai’s daughter showed these had been written at leisure, outside the exam hall. Besides, the invigilators’ signatures did not match. We are scrutinising more answer-sheets and getting a uniform pattern of tampering.
What was Usha Sinha’s role?
When she came face to face with Rai, she blamed him for all that had happened. She admitted she had been tempted by the prospect of making money. Prasad said he did everything on his politician wife’s instructions. He broke down once during interrogation and said, Humse badi galti ho gayi (we have committed a big mistake). We have recorded their interrogation but not their statements under CrPC section 164 yet. We want to gather all the facts.
And what is the role of board secretary Hariharnath Jha?
Rai’s daughter is shown as absent in the examination hall and also in the final tabulation sheet issued from a processing centre in Kolkata, yet her answer-sheets were found with the board. The secretary had corresponded with the processing unit in Kolkata and his connivance has been proved prima facie, with evidence.
What else was the board chairman involved in?
Interrogation of several of the accused has revealed that Prasad gave affiliation to over 200 private Inter colleges that did not have the required infrastructure, for Rs 4 to 5 lakh. Usha Sinha was party to this.
There have been allegations that Prasad and Usha Sinha were arrested from a JD(U) leader’s Patna house. Are police under political pressure?
We arrested them from Varanasi and there is no political angle so far. We are not under any pressure but are arresting those against whom we are getting evidence.