There have been 19 more arrests in the APSC cash-for-jobs scam, taking the tally to 65 high government officials cooling their heels in police or judicial custody. More arrests are likely because the handwriting samples of many suspect officials are being examined by forensic experts. The rot spread wide, police statements indicate — so that apart from civil, police and allied services, APSC selections for agriculture and other departments too are under the scanner. There has been some public disappointment that no big fish has been netted yet, though several among the arrested are the offspring or relatives of political leaders, top babus and influential persons.
To the credit of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his anti-graft campaign continues to grind on; thanks to the persistence of Dibrugarh police, those candidates are now passing sleepless nights who once cleared APSC tests with duplicate answer sheets that they wrote at leisure or got sharper brains to ghostwrite for them in secret locations. Proof of such misdeeds lie stored in their answer scripts for sleuths and forensic labs to uncover. The onus is now on the State government to completely overhaul APSC and clean up public recruitment tests once and for all. These tests have been thoroughly compromised for almost two decades, which means the administrative apparatus of Assam will continue to be manned by many who got in through money or power. Because these unworthy people were allowed to buy their jobs, it has been impossible to uproot corruption from the system.
The leakage of question paper and other irregularities in the selection test held by the State Panchayat and Rural Development department on May 20 last merely go to show how entrenched this pernicious culture has become. For long, the outcome has been a continuing brain drain from Assam — our best minds must go outside to do well on merit. The impression is that only the incapable, dishonest and corrupt can prosper in the State, for it is they who have the mentality and resources to game the system. Nothing can be more detrimental to the future of Assam than such an impression. It can be removed only by cleaning up the entire gamut of selection tests from government teachers to various cadres of public officials. Let the investigations be unrelenting, but the much-needed overhaul cannot be put off any longer.