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September 19, 2020

CBSE paper leak: How WhatsApp helped Delhi Police Crime Branch nab two teachers, coaching centre tutor

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Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) official KS Rana was suspended by the Human Resource Development ministry amid nationwide outrage over the CBSE paper leak on Sunday. The Delhi Police’s Crime Branch also arrested three persons, including two teachers of a private school, for their alleged involvement in the leak of the Class XII economics paper.

A series of tweets from School Education Secretary Anil Swarup said Rana has been suspended over laxity in supervising an examination centre in connection with the paper leaks

“Consequent to the arrest of two teachers from Mother Khajani Convent School, Mungeshpur, Delhi, and a coaching institute Head, Tauquir by Delhi Police, for colluding to leak the Class 12 economics paper and probe done by CBSE, a #CBSE personnel, K S Rana has been found lax in supervision,” Swarup said. “On the direction of the HRD Minister @PrakashJavdekar to take swift action against culprits, the Board has suspended K S Rana, the official found lax in supervising examination centre (0859) with immediate effect. A formal inquiry has been instituted,” he said.

Mounting pressure on the government, the Congress demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak out, even as the initial probe found that it was friendship, not money that prompted the two school teachers to leak the Class XII exam paper to a tutor at a coaching centre.

All the three: Rishabh (29) and Rohit (26), teachers at Mother Khajani Convent School, a private school in Bawana, and Tauqeer (26), a tutor at a private coaching centre in Bawana, were arrested, the police said. The school is also under scanner for allegedly providing the question paper to the teachers around 9.10 am, 35 minutes before the stipulated time, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar was quoted as saying by PTI.

This gave the two accused—Rohit and Rishabh—ample time to click the pictures of the paper and send them to Tauqeer, who circulated them to a student, the police said. The probe revealed that the three were friends for the past four-five years and the money involved was between Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000, they said. The police zeroed in on Tauqeer through 10 WhatsApp numbers, four of which were provided by the CBSE in its complaint, and used for circulating the leaked paper, another police officer said.

The Delhi Police registered two cases in connection with the leaks. The first case relating to the leak of the economics paper was lodged on 27 March and the other pertaining to the mathematics paper was lodged on 28 March, following a complaint by the regional director of the CBSE.

Here’s how the police zeroed in on the culprits using WhatsApp:

The papers circulated through WhatsApp had a location code which matched the code assigned to the private school from where the paper was leaked, the police said. A student who got the paper was found and he led the police to Tauqeer who was detained by the cops on Saturday. He shared details of his accomplices with the police after which the trio were arrested.

The police had to track down 20 recipients of a WhatsApp message chain message before they zeroed in on the main suspects. When the investigation began, the special crime branch team had details of four WhatsApp groups on which the question paper was shared. According to Hindustan Times, the four groups were mentioned in a tip-off received by the CBSE hours after the economics paper began on 26 March.

One of the challenges for the police was to trace the WhatsApp chain message which was forwarded from one phone to another “as each received and forwarded the leaked paper.” A senior investigator assigned to the case told Hindustan Times, “We identified the person who posted the question paper in that group.” Once they tracked the person, they followed the chain message to 20 other phones. All the three are currently in police custody for two days during which they would be questioned over the money trail and whether they leaked other papers, the police said. The police have also questioned the principal and five teachers of the school in connection with the case. They have not been given a clean chit, they said.

All those questioned, including tutors and students, revealed that they got the papers from someone else. There is nothing to indicate that money was charged for sharing these papers, an official privy to the probe said. The Delhi Police Crime Branch sought details of the examination centres, their superintendents and the contacts of banks where the papers were kept for safekeeping and these have been furnished by the board, the official said.

“The papers (economics and mathematics) were shared on over 10 WhatsApp groups, comprising 50-60 members. These groups were active in outer Delhi and border areas of Delhi and Haryana. Four numbers that the CBSE had mentioned in their complaint were used to circulate the Class XII economics paper were traced and through them the police traced these WhatsApp groups and their admins,” the official said.

The WhatsApp groups mostly comprise students and tutors and some of them had common members, the official said. “If we are able to establish the link of any of these WhatsApp group members with those connected to officials related to the examination process, we might question the latter as we have got their details from the board,” the official added.

The CBSE also informed the police that they had received five complaints informing them that the two papers were leaked, another official said, adding that the contents of these complaints have been shared with them and will be examined. In the complaint pertaining to the mathematics paper, the board has said that a day before the exam, an e-mail was received on the CBSE chairperson’s official ID informing about the leak, the officials said.

In the email, the sender stated that the mathematics paper was leaked on WhatsApp and that it should be cancelled, they said. The mail also contained 12 images of the handwritten mathematics paper allegedly leaked on WhatsApp, according to the complaint.

In order to identify the sender of the email, the police had written to Google a couple of days ago to share details about the email ID and on Sunday it sent a reminder to the search engine to expedite the process. In its complaint to the police, the board said they received a complaint by fax on 23 March from an “unknown source” that a man running a coaching institute in Rajendra Nagar was involved in leaking the economics paper.

The complaint also named two schools in Rajendra Nagar for their involvement in the alleged leak.

The police said that so far, they have not found any clue to indicate that the schools were involved and it appears that it was an act of mischief. They have also asked the board to share the fax number from which the anonymous fax was received.

On Thursday, the police “interacted” with three officials of the Board: The Controller of Examinations, Regional director CBSE, Delhi and secretary to understand the examination process and other details pertaining to papers being set. On 26 March, when the students sat for the economics paper, the CBSE Academic unit at Rouse Avenue received an unaddressed envelope in the evening containing four sheets of hand written answers of the economics paper.

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