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HSLC question paper leak case: Masterminds arrested in Lakhimpur

Pranab Dutta is a teacher of Luit Kaboloo Higher Secondary School under Lohit Khabaloi Gaon Panchayat, which is located in Lakhimpur Majuli boundary area.

HSLC question paper leak case: Masterminds arrested in Lakhimpur

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  18 March 2023 2:29 AM GMT

GUWAHATI/LAKHIMPUR: The Assam Police have identified and arrested the three masterminds of the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) question paper leak. The culprits have been identified as Pranab Dutta, Prasanna Das and Kumud Rajkhowa.

Pranab Dutta is a teacher of Luit Kaboloo Higher Secondary School under Lohit Khabaloi Gaon Panchayat, which is located in Lakhimpur Majuli boundary area. He was also the centre in-charge of the exam centre set up in the school. On the other hand, Kumud Rajkhowa is the head teacher of the Dafalakata Janajati High School located under the same Gaon Panchayat of the district while Prasanna Das is a teacher in the same school.

A team of police personnel at first arrested Pranab Dutta on Thursday from Khabaloo Ghat while Prasanna Das was arrested from his residence located at Amtola-Jainpur. Lakhimpur Superintendent of Police Bedanta Madhab Rajkhowa interrogated Pranab Dutta till late night. While Pranab Dutta was interrogated, Kumud Rajkhowa’s involvement in the question paper leak scam came to light through his statement. However, Rajkhowa was absconding and to arrest him, Lakhimpur police launched search operation at various places, including his two residences at Kadam Bagan Gaon and Bijay Nagar of North Lakhimpur town and Jengraimukh of Majuli. But he could not be traced. He went into hiding leaving his mobile phone at home.

Meanwhile, Assam Director General of Police (DGP) GP Singh, while addressing a press conference in Guwahati today in the afternoon, called upon all culprits involved in the scam to surrender before police. Two hours after the press conference, Kumud Rajkhowa surrendered before Lakhimpur police at North Lakhimpur Police Station.

Revealing details of question paper leak, DGP GP Singh said in the press conference, “When the General Science question paper was leaked on March 12, we asked the Board of Secondary Education (SEBA) authority to lodge an FIR with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). In the initial investigation, 22 people were taken into custody, including three from Guwahati who were staff of the Bhauri Devi Sarawgi Deaf & Dumb School. We found out that the whole paper leak was concentrated in six districts of Upper Assam- Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sadiya, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Majuli. I held a discussion with the SPs of all the districts of Upper Assam and in that discussion it was found that the question paper had leaked from the Dafalakata Janajati High School in Lakhimpur.”

The DGP further said that SEBA sends the question papers to the police stations nearest to the exam centres through escort. The centre in-charge of every exam centre under a police station take the question papers receives the question papers and maintains all entries in a register. Pranab Dutta had received 29 sets of question papers but he made entry of only 28 sets. The one remaining set he handed over to Kumud Rajkhowa in exchange for money. Kumud Rajkhowa then circulated the General Science question paper in his school’s WhatsApp group and to others in exchange for money.

“Pranab Dutta said that he took Rs 5,000 from Kumud Rajkhowa but we think that there was a monetary transaction of a higher amount. We are investigating this. We have also identified and traced the distribution link of the question papers. We have sought the help of the WhatsApp authority for this. Most monetary transactions were carried out through WhatsApp and e-wallet agencies like GPay and Paytm,” said the DGP.

Pranab Dutta burnt the set of question papers in a house at Khabaloo after the case was registered in connection with the question paper leak issue. Police found the remnants of burnt question papers in the house. There were half-burnt question papers of General Science and Assamese subjects. Following this development, SEBA rescheduled the Assamese exam also.

The DGP said, “Till yesterday, 27 people had been arrested, including 14 adults and 13 juveniles. The arrest of the juveniles was necessary to trace how the leaked paper was circulated through WhatsApp messages.”

The DGP ruled out involvement of SEBA officials in the entire paper leak scam. “We have not found any evidence of criminality against SEBA officials. However, if we find any non-criminal lapses on their part, we will inform the government so that necessary action may be taken.”

He also said that investigation on the paper leak incident in Guwahati was going on.

Meanwhile, protests were staged in front of the SEBA office in Guwahati today by various organizations, including the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU). The AASU reiterated its demand for the reconstitution of SEBA.

On the other hand, SEBA Controller of Examination Nayan Jyoti Sarma told media persons that despite the question paper leakage, the HSLC exam results would be declared in May. There may be an inevitable delay of 8-10 days, but the results will be declared in May.

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