In perhaps a first, internet services remained suspended across several parts of Rajasthan on Saturday to conduct a cheating-free police constable recruitment examination, which is being held to fill up 13,142 vacancies. The services will also remain affected on Sunday, the second day of the test — conducted at 664 centres across 78 cities and towns in the state in two shifts: from 10 am to 12 noon, and 3 pm to 5 pm.
The extreme precaution was taken after the recruitment examination was cancelled in March — when it was held online for the first time — after the Special Operations Group (SOG) busted a high-tech real-time cheating racket.
Officials claimed that district Superintendents of Police “were instructed to take a call” on banning internet services to conduct fair examinations this time.
On Saturday, stringent arrangements were made for around 7.5 lakh applicants to take the test across the state, however, only 70 per cent appeared, DGP O P Galhotra said. A total of 15,13,137 candidates have applied for the posts. The examination was held without any glitches on the first day, officials said.
The clampdown on internet services is effective for varying durations across the state on both the days. While in Jaipur the ban is in effect between 8 am and 5 pm, in Nagaur district, the ban has been imposed between 8 am and 6 pm.
Criticising the move, Congress state president Sachin Pilot said: “Banning internet from morning till evening for two days shows a mirror to BJP government’s Digital India campaign. The government failed to catch those indulged in cheating and hence it decided to cause inconvenience to citizens of the entire state by banning internet.”
In May, a UNESCO-International Federation of Journalists report had said that India witnessed the highest number of internet shutdowns in 2017-18.
Besides suspending internet services, a slew of other measures were also taken for the examination. Jammers were set up at all test centres, where gates were closed half-an-hour prior to commencement of exam. While candidates were identified through biometric attendance, they were forbidden to carry items like writing pads, erasers, jewellery (such as rings, nose rings, earrings, necklace), wallets, glasses, bags and caps among others.
The police department had also fixed a dress code, directing examinees to wear only “light clothes without buttons”. Applicants were also asked to wear just slippers and sandals – no shoes are permitted – to the test centres.
Inspector General (Recruitment) Prashakha Mathur, said only those with half-sleeves clothes were allowed.
Meanwhile, at least two dozen people were caught from Jodhpur, Bikaner and Sikar on Friday for claiming to “help” candidates during the test. Police said these men did not have any access to the question paper or centres.