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5 more held in Bihar over NEET-UG irregularities; total arrests rise to 18

Source: PTI
June 23, 2024 23:58 IST
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The Economic Offences Unit of Bihar police stepped up its investigation into the NEET "paper leak" by arresting five more suspects on Sunday, a day after their detention in Jharkhand's Deoghar, taking the total number of those apprehended to 18.

IMAGE: NEET paper leak accused are being taken out of the LNJP Hospital after medical test, in Patna, Bihar, June 23, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

The development comes on a day the CBI filed an FIR in connection with alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG held on May 5 on a reference from the Union education ministry, amid countrywide protests and litigation by students for a probe into paper leak claims.


According to a statement by the EOU, the five arrested persons have been identified as Baldev Kumar, Mukesh Kumar, Panku Kumar, Rajeev Kumar and Paramjeet Singh, all hailing from Nalanda.

Baldev Kumar, associated with the notorious Sanjeev Kumar alias Lutan Mukhiya gang, allegedly received the solved answer sheet of the NEET-UG exam in PDF format on his mobile phone a day before the exam.

The statement implicated members of the Mukhiya gang, accused of orchestrating multiple interstate paper leaks, as the source of the leaked answer sheet.

Further investigation revealed that Baldev and his associates printed and distributed the solved answer sheet to students gathered at a safe house in Ram Krishna Nagar in Patna on May 4 for memorisation. The aspirants were brought there by two previously arrested persons, Nitish Kumar and Amit Anand.

Meanwhile, the Bihar Home Department, in a notification issued on Sunday evening, accorded its consent to CBI in order to investigate the FIR dated June 5 registered at Shastrinagar Police station in Patna.

"... The case registered under section 407,408,409,120B of the IPC, which relates to irregularities in NEET UG 2024 examination held on May 5. The CBI team is expected to soon visit Patna to take over the investigation of the case. The EOU will hand over all the updated case records to the CBI," it said.

According to the EOU statement, the leaked NEET-UG question paper was obtained from a private school in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, by the Mukhiya gang.
Investigators matched a partially burnt question paper recovered from the Patna safe house with the reference question paper provided by the National Testing Agency, confirming the leak's origin, it said.

Standard procedures for handling and transporting question papers, as set by the NTA, were also allegedly disregarded by those involved in the breach.

The EOU interrogated several persons linked to the custody chain of the question papers, including bank officials and employees of a courier company.

Rajeev Kumar, Panku Kumar and Paramjeet Singh were arrested for providing duplicate mobile SIMs, phones and accommodation to Baldev Kumar and his associates in Deoghar, the EOU said.

Mukesh Kumar, a taxi driver, was also arrested for facilitating transport for the accused and aspirants within Patna.

The statement said 15 aspirants identified by the NTA were being scrutinised, with four already questioned, while the remainder are yet to appear for examination by investigators.

With the case now transferred to the CBI, further investigation into the NEET paper leak and associated irregularities are expected to unfold under the agency's purview.

Previously, the EOU had arrested 13 persons, including a junior engineer, Sikandar Yadavendu and others linked to the case. These arrests followed allegations from aspirants and their parents, who admitted to receiving and using the leaked question paper to prepare for the NEET-UG exam.

The NEET-UG exam, involving around 24 lakh candidates, was conducted by the NTA on May 5, with results announced on June 4, amid subsequent allegations of paper leaks and irregularities across Bihar and other states.

The exam is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

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