With police expanding the scope of investigation into the statewide dummy candidate racket, a meeting of top officials from the state Home department and police was held last week, which reviewed the probe till date. Two fresh FIRs were registered in Nanded and Aurangabad last week and two more are in the process of being filed in Mumbai, officials told The Indian Express. These four new cases will be in addition to the 22 cases registered since mid-2016, including some in Pune, in connection with the racket.
A 28-year-old political science graduate, Yogesh Jadhav from Nanded, had unearthed the series of impersonation cases in government recruitment exams conducted between 2010 and 2016 by filing several RTI applications. The information provided by him led to the statewide probe by an SIT of the Maharashtra CID. The total number of instances in which dummy candidates appeared for the exams as part of the racket is estimated to be over 500.
The SIT has till now arrested 10 persons who ran the racket and 23 serving government servants who were recruited through it. These 23 are from a total of 75 government servants identified by the CID to have got jobs with the help of dummy candidates provided by the racketeers.
A senior official from the Home department told The Indian Express that a meeting of senior officials from the department and from the CID was conducted recently, where a review of the ongoing probe was done. “Along with the review of the progress in investigation, it was also decided that some of the cases which are still with local police will be handed over to the SIT for a centralised probe,” the official added.
A CID officer said the four new cases involved the same set of racketeers who were part of all other cases but that the dummy candidates in these cases could be different. The probe till now has revealed several ways through which the racketeers managed to sneak in dummy candidates in place of actual candidates in return for large sums of money ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
Those arrested include kingpin Prabodh Rathod, a dismissed government employee from Nanded and impersonators, including two then serving police officers of assistant inspector rank, a CID handwriting expert and a cop who was part of the initial probe. The SIT has till now filed three chargesheets and is probing FIRs registered across Maharashtra.
The Indian Express recently reported that officials, who have been monitoring the investigation since the beginning, have questioned the inordinate delays by the government to take action against the 75 serving government servants, allegedly recruited through the racket between 2010 and 2016. However, taking a lesson from these instances, the state government has introduced systems like bio-metric identification and Aadhaar-based registration in the exam systems along with various ways of surveillance.