Patna: Fresh out of college and unemployed, Vikas Yadav, a resident of Bihar’s Jamui district, desperately wanted a government job. Last year, when he saw an advertisement in a Hindi daily offering jobs in the ‘Bihar Police’, he thought he had found his calling.
The Bihar police constable recruitment examination for selecting candidates for 9,900 posts was conducted between October 15 and 22, 2017, and was attempted by over 11 lakh candidates. The candidates who passed the written examination needed to pass another round of examination called the Physical Evaluation Test (PET), which carries a total of 100 marks and is meant to test the physical fitness of the candidates. The final merit list of candidates is prepared based on the results of the PET. On June 11, 2018, the list of the 9,900 constables recruited was released; among these were 6,643 women, amounting for 67.52% of the intake, and 3,196 men, making up the remaining 32.48%.
Vikas and many others who failed to make the list have alleged that there was massive impersonation fraud in the recruitment procedure. The Central Selection Board has released a list of 76 candidates who made a ‘scholar’ take the written exam on their behalf. Scholar is a term used for fake candidates who appear for someone else in the exams, and there is no dearth of such people in the merit list.
For example, the name of Vindhyachal Kumar (roll no. 7718040024) of Kinarbola village is included in the merit list and has been appointed in Dumrao sub-division of Buxar district despite also being there in the list of fraudsters. The merit list contains many such names, but they have not yet caught the attention of investigators. Seventy-one candidates were selected for the Saharsa district police force through the exam.
A two-member investigating team involving police inquiry officer Anil Kumar Mehrotra was part of a two-member team – formed on the instructions of superintendent of police Rakesh Kumar – that examined the details of the candidates. The investigation found that Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Munger district, Preeti Kumari of Khagaria district, Aman Kumar of Bhagalpur district and Anuj Kumar of Patna district, came under suspicion as their handwriting and signature failed to match with that on original application form. When questioned, they conceded that they had succeeded in the written examination with the help of scholars.
The recruitment process for the selected candidates was scheduled from July 5 to August 5. One of the successful candidates, Nandan Kumar of Munger district, submitted his documents for verification. The examiners found his documents doubtful as there were several variations. During the physical examination, Nandan’s face did not match with the one on paper, and his height and chest measurements did not match. There were differences too in the identification mark sent by him and the identification marks sent by the Council. An FIR was lodged against Nandan for having used a scholar, and he was finally arrested by sub-inspector Sanjay Kumar on July 26.
According to Rohtas district SHO Dharmendra Kumar, Mithilesh Kumar, a resident of Bhagalpur district, was recruited as a constable. When Mithilesh Kumar came to Rohtas to join the police, his height and chest width failed to match with the measurements given in the documents. Even his signature failed to match. An examination of the recruitment papers revealed that someone else had appeared for his physical examination. He was was arrested and sent to jail.
Six other candidates were caught during physical examination at the Gardanibagh stadium, which lies at the heart of Patna. They were all caught when their thumb impressions did not match. The students – Sujeet Kumar (Jehanabad), Premchand (Rohtas), Pappu Kumar Ram (Supaul), Mukesh Kumar (Munger), Krishna Kumar (Munger) and Bambam Kumar (Munger) – were handed over to the police at the Gardanibagh police station by the officers present at the PET centre. They have all passed the written examination by having scholars appear for them. When they appeared for the PET, though, their thumb impressions failed to match with those taken during the written exams.
In Bihar’s Sheohar district, a scholar named Rajneesh Kumar took Rs 2.5 lakh to appear for one Roshan Kumar to take the PET, according to Sheohar superintendent of police Santosh Kumar said. Rajneesh assured Roshan that he would be selected, but before he could join, the discrepancies in his height, chest width and signature were found and was caught.
Meanwhile, unsuccessful candidates have escalated their protests and judicial proceedings against the botched recruitment drive. They claim they have already spent Rs 25 lakh on their protests through crowdfunding. They sat at the Patna’s Hartali More for seven consecutive days, but the government and big media have all turned a blind eye to them, they say.
Bihar DGP K.S. Dwivedi said the unsuccessful candidates were protesting simply because they failed. But the number of defaulting candidates caught during the PET – 1,800 as of now – says otherwise. The number of defaulters in the written exam is expected to be so high that it is not even being investigated. The fact is that Bihar’s system for recruiting officials is broken. It is plagued by rampant fraud and unprofessional practices.
When the Central Selection Board was contacted for a response, they pleaded lack of “adequate information regarding the issue” and said an answer should be sought from the police department. Asked for his comment, Bihar DGP K.S. Dwivedi said that he’s not supposed to comment on the issue and suggested the media approach the government. This reporter’s discussion with deputy CM Sushil Modi ended on the note that there was no fraud or impersonation in the recruitment process and that the protesting students were simply venting out their frustration at having failed to qualify.
The JDU and the BJP’s unwillingness to accept the reality of this fraud even after Rajiv Mishra, an IPS officer from Gaya, publicly acknowledged the rampant impersonation, is because the opposition has already drawn up a long list of scams and administrative malpractices involving the Nitish Kumar government. If a fair investigation is done, it might lead to several other names which the BJP would definitely want to avoid, given they are already traversing choppy waters with the Srijan scam, the Toilet scam, the Paddy scam and the Scholarship scam to name a few. Furthermore, it might even dent their chances in Bihar for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
As journalists and media houses stage fierce debates every night on Hindu-Muslim issues, no one has time for a scandal that is affecting the lives of tens of thousands of young men and women. The Bihar recruitment fraud is not simply the same old story of exam cheating. It is about the mutation of exam cheating into a service industry facilitated by lax administration and political indifference bordering on collusion.
Vivashwan Singh is a student at Christ University, and has previously written for Tehelka, DailyO, The Quint, The Citizen, Youth Ki Aawaz and Centre for Policy Analysis.