Mumbai

Four more arrested in HSC paper leak case

End of road: Police officials escort the accused arrested in the paper leak case on Saturday.

End of road: Police officials escort the accused arrested in the paper leak case on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Yogesh Mhatre

Source of the leak traced to a Virar school headmaster

Navi Mumbai: The Vashi police on Saturday arrested four more people, including the main accused, in the HSC Marathi and Secretarial Practice question paper leak case.

According to the police, the papers were leaked by the headmaster of Mount Mary School in Virar, Anand Ramdas Kamat (43), and his head clerk Ganesh Sudhakar Rane (30). They allegedly forwarded the papers to advocate Nikhil Shankar Rane (29) and Vinesh Ashok Dhotre (27), who operate private tuition classes in Virar. Dhotre is also a teacher at Lokmanya Junior College in Nalasopara.

The tutors had promised ₹20,000 each to Kamat and Rane for leaking the question papers. Dhotre and Rane had also taken ₹1,000 to ₹2,000 from students for sharing the paper.

Madhukar Pandey, Joint Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai, said the challenge before the police was to solve the case before the HSC exams got over. “We [solved the case through] reverse investigation, [tracking] question paper code, and [locating] a scissor that was used as a paper weight while taking a photo of the paper,” he said.

The investigation

A total of five police teams, lead by Police Inspector Chetan Kakade of Vashi police station, were formed to get to the source of the leak.

They questioned members of 15 WhatsApp groups that had circulated the papers. Mr. Pandey said, “We questioned each [member] about who sent the paper to them. We also had our officials in a WhatsApp group as dummy students. We seized 40 mobiles [during the investigation] and sent it to the forensic department for a detailed report.”

Senior Police Inspector Ajay Landge, Vashi police station, said, “Kamat and Rane had used SHAREit application instead of WhatsApp, thinking that it cannot be traced by the police.” He added that the duo used the cell phone of a Class XI student for taking the photo of the papers. “The involvement of the Class XI student is not clear. If his involvement is found, he will be arrested and made co-accused in the case.”

Mr. Pandey said, “The [leaked] question papers’ code was T70, we found out that two schools from Virar in Palghar district had received question papers with this code.” Mr. Landge said the exact time of the leak would be verified after the forensic report comes through, however, they suspect the papers were leaked 20 minutes before the exam.

The police nabbed Kamat and Rane after they matched the scissor in the photograph to the one in Kamat’s office.

Mr. Kakade said, “We questioned [Kamat] on how sealed [question paper] sets are opened and he showed us the scissor which matched the one in the picture.” The investigating team also found a photo of the leaked question papers on Rane’s phone.

According to police, only the pages containing objective questions were leaked. They are investigating whether the accused were involved in the two paper leaks registered with Khar and Kandivali police station.

All the accused have been remanded in police custody till March 18.

The police have added extra sections of 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to the case, along with the previous sections of the Maharashtra Prevention of Malpractices at University, Board & Other Specified Exams Act, 1982, read with section 66A (a) of the IT Act.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 7:57:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/four-more-arrested-in-hsc-paper-leak-case/article17449599.ece

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