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The man behind Bihar's topper scam

By M I Khan
June 10, 2016 14:38 IST
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'Bachcha' Rai is alleged to be the mastermind behind Bihar's topper scam.
M I Khan profiles the controversial educationist.

IMAGE: Some students in Bihar pay up to Rs 50,000 to secure a 1st division. Photograph published only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bihar School Examination Board

He failed the Class 12 exams twice, but cleared it with a 1st division in the third attempt from the college named after his grandfather, Vishun Roy College, in Bihar's Vaishali district.

In the years that followed, he allegedly turned the V R College into a 'shop' of 'guaranteed successful results' and produced toppers, with a little help from Bihar School Examination Board officials.

Amit Kumar 'Bachcha' Rai, the director-principal of the V R college, is alleged to be at the heart of Bihar's toppers controversy which came to light when four students from the college -- Ruby Rai, Sourabh Shrestha, Rahul Kumar and Shalini -- who topped the state's Class 12 exams were 'exposed' on local television channels for their unfamiliarity with their chosen subjects of study.

Amrendra Singh, a former teacher at V R College, had alleged that Rai became principal of the V R College on the basis of 'dubious' degrees in 1999, when he was just 19.

Singh alleged that Rai passed the Class 12 exam in 1998, then secured a post-graduate degree in just 13 months and subsequently became principal.

"How did he get an MA degree in 13 months after he passed his Class 12?" asks Singh, adding, "Later he secured a Phd in music."

According to reports, Rai passed the Class 10 exam in 1994 and enrolled himself at the V R College, but failed to pass the Class 12 exam in 1996 and 1997. In the third attempt he passed the exam with a first division in the science stream.

Bachcha RaiRai, left, is said to have powerful political connections. During last year's Bihar assembly election, he shared the dais with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, now Bihar's health minister.

After the toppers controversy erupted, Lalu Yadav quickly clarified that he had nothing to with Rai.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Kumar Modi has alleged that Rai worked hard to ensure Laloo Yadav's younger son Tejaswi Yadav's victory in the 2015 assembly election.

Rai's father Rajdeo Rai, who is said to be close to some Bihar politicians, unsuccessfully contested elections to the Bihar Legislative Council.

Besides the V R College, Rajdeo Rai runs three other educational institutions -- two degree colleges and a high school.

The V R college was set up in 1997-98 by Rajdeo Rai in his father's name.

In the early 2000s, the college started producing 1st division results, and students with high scores. Its students' miracle performances in the mid-2000s brought it both the limelight and controversy.

In 2005, then BSEB chairman Nageshwar Sharma ordered the scrutiny of V R College results. 380 students with 1st division results were relegated to the second division; only four first division results were deemed genuine.

The V R College results were reviewed again in 2007.

The college produced toppers in 2014, 2015 and 2016, which came as a surprise for many government colleges and plus-two schools in Bihar with NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) grading.

IMAGE: 'Bachcha' Rai, wife Sangita Kumari and daughter Shalini after the results.

Rai was present on the college premises when the Special Investigation Team from Patna visited the V R College on June 8, but was not arrested.

"Rai was present when the SIT visited his college," a senior police officer told this correspondent, adding, "Why and in what circumstances did they not arrest him despite knowing that his name features in the FIR?"

A day after Rai gave investigators the slip, Zonal Inspector General of Police (Tirhut) Sunil Kumar admitted that it was discovered during a review of all five district police teams engaged in assisting the SIT that Rai and his father were present and provided the search party with required documents.

Police officers suspect Rai, alerted by powerful people in the state government that he may be arrested, then disappeared.

SIT teams have been conducting raids in Vaishali, Muzaffarpur and other places in the state to arrest Rai and Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, who resigned as Bihar School Examination Board chairman on June 8.

The SIT investigation revealed that Rai's daughter Shalini, a V R College student, topped the science stream in the Class 12 exam last year, but her name was later removed from the merit list.

Bihar Education Minister Ashok Choudhary declared last week that the 'education mafia' were behind the toppers scam.

The first information report lodged at Patna's Kotwali police station alleged fraud and machination by the V R College to influence the results of the Class 12 exam.

"The answer books of the toppers appear to have been changed, which makes it a case of fraud," a police officer said.

According to the FIR, the exam centre for V R College students was located at the G A High School in Hajipur, the Vaishali district headquarters.

All the answer books from Vaishali district went for evaluation to Bhojpur and Kaimur districts, except for the V R College -- those answer books were evaluated at the Rajendra Nagar High School in Patna.

Many V R College employees are Rai's relatives. His father Rajdeo Rai is the college secretary, his mother Lalmuni Devi is the college president, his uncle Ramchander is on the college board.

Rai's wife Sangita Kumari, brother Jitender Kumar, a sister-in-law, another uncle, a brother-in-law, and two cousins all work for the college.

SIT officials allege that students had to pay Rs 50,000 to secure a 1st division result. If they were ambitious and wanted to top the exam, the rates were much higher.

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