“Maine to Papa se kaha tha pass karwa dijiye, unhone ne to top hi karwa diya.” This is what the Bihar board Class XII topper, whose result has since been cancelled after a retest, reportedly told her interrogators. Loosely translated, her assertion was, “I had only told Papa to get me passed but they went ahead and made me topper.”
The Vaishali girl, a widely publicised TV interview of whom showed her struggling to answer basic questions and mispronouncing political science as “prodigal science”, has been arrested. Facing an expert committee of the Bihar State Education Board that asked her to write a few lines on Tulsidas the poet, she had written one line: “Tulsidas, pranam”.
“The arts topper was very forthright in accepting that she did not deserve to be a topper,” Manu Maharaj, Patna special SP heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing the scam, told The Indian Express. “She had expected second division at best. She now blamed her guardians and Vishun Roy College principal Bachcha Rai for making her topper.”
The SSP, however, was unconvinced that she was ignorant of the scam. “She seemed to have written fresh answers in a tampered version of her answer-sheet,” he said.
The student’s age, meanwhile, has become the subject of another controversy. A local NGO held a press conference Monday claiming she was born in October 1998 and hence still a minor. The girl herself has made no such claim, nor has her family approached the police or court over this.
The court, in Patna, has sent her to judicial custody for 14 days in Beur jail. “It is the court that takes a call on one being a minor or not. As the girl has not claimed at any stage that she is a minor, the court treated her as a major and sent her to judicial custody,” SSP Maharaj said.
Her lawyer K D Misha, however, told The Indian Express, “I have spoken to the girl’s father, who told me she was born in October 1998. We are waiting for her father to produce her birth certificate before we move court. I wonder at the police’s ignorance, for they must have with them all certificates of the girl mentioning her age”.
SSP Maharaj said that just because a student could be a minor, it did not mean they were not part of a conspiracy to make them the topper. “There has been enough proof of toppers’ copies getting tampered and students writing their answers afresh,” he said. “The biggest proof of tampering was the evaluator awarding 51 marks out of 50 to one of the four arrested students. Later, that was crossed out and 48 marks were awarded.”
Board official arrested
Bihar board secretary Hariharnath Jha was arrested Monday in connection with the toppers scam. He was sent to 14 days in judicial custody. According to SSP Maharaj, police have prima facie evidence of his involvement in the scam.