CBI Arrests ‘Rocky’, Alleged Mastermind In NEET-UG Paper Leak Case

CBI Arrests 'Rocky', Alleged Mastermind In NEET-UG Paper Leak Case

New Delhi:

The CBI has arrested a man called Rakesh Ranjan, alias Rocky, who is believed to be the kingpin in the NEET paper leak case, sources said Thursday afternoon.

Ranjan has been sent to the agency’s custody for 10 days. This comes as the CBI is also raiding four locations – two near Patna in Bihar and two near Kolkata in West Bengal – in this case.

Over a dozen people, including the principal and vice-principal of a school in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh, have been arrested so far, as various state police forces and the CBI investigate a national racket that involves leaking of question papers for competitive exams like NEET.

NDTV Explains | If No Paper Leak, Why Arrests, And Other Big Questions

Last week a student was arrested from Patna.

The CBI has, excluding Rocky, arrested eight people in connection with this case.

Tasked with investigating the nation-wide exam paper racket, the agency has so far filed six FIRs, or first information reports, including five for three separate cases in Bihar.

On Wednesday CBI sources told NDTV the NEET paper leak may have had its origins in the Hazaribagh school. Papers leaked from there also made their way to Bihar, a CBI official said.

READ | NEET-UG Paper Leak Had Genesis In Hazaribagh: CBI Officials

Explaining the sequence of events, the CBI official said nine sets of papers for the exam, which was supposed to be held on May 5, reached a State Bank of India branch two days earlier for safekeeping. From there, two sets were transported to the Oasis School in Hazaribagh, which was a centre for the exam, and the seals on them were broken by the time they reached the school.

Agency sources said Rocky was present when the question papers were unsealed.

He took photos of the questions and shared them with ‘solver gangs’, the name given to an organised racket that provides answers to leaked papers. These were then shared with exam candidates, for prices running into the lakhs, who were trying to cheat. Rocky is also linked to another key figure in this racket, Sanjeev Mukhiya, who has been involved in this scam for two decades and is on the run.

READ | Who is Sanjeev Mukhiya? Alleged Mastermind Of NEET Paper Leak

The arrest of Ranjan, or Rocky, could bust the NEET case wide open even as the courts debate the extent of the leak of question papers. The government and the testing agencies both say the leak has been limited to localised regions and a few students.

CBI sources said that while it is not clear exactly where the papers were leaked from, what the evidence points to is the fact that it was: either from the bank branch, while in transit to the school, or from the school itself.

The NEET-UG exam is taken for admission to undergraduate medical courses.

Controversy – nearly 24 lakh students took the May 5 exam – broke last month after results were declared. The first red flags were the unusually high number of perfect scores; a record 67 students, including six from one coaching centre, scored a maximum 720. Questions were also asked over the award of ‘grace marks’ – not exam protocol, the NTA said – to 1,563 students.

Questions were also asked over the award of ‘grace marks’ to 1,563 students.

A retest for those students was held last week, but hundreds did not appear.

The entire row has made its way to the Supreme Court, which had served a notice to the under-fire NTA, or National Testing Agency, which is the central body that conducts the NEET exam.

The NTA today defended itself against claims the NEET paper had been leaked on popular messaging app Telegram, calling those images a “fake”. In an affidavit filed on Wednesday the NTA said the screenshots shared on Telegram were “fabricated”.

READ | “Manipulated”: Exam Body On “Fake” NEET Paper On Telegram

The NTA also claimed no NEET-UG question paper was found to be missing, and that no locks (of boxes containing the papers) were broken in Bihar.

READ | Why So Many NEET-UG Toppers? Exam Body’s Reply In Court

Further, the NTA also sought to explain why there were an unusually high number of high-scoring results in this year’s exam, saying “differences in new and old editions” of a textbook meant there were two correct options to one question. Removing that, the agency said, the actual number of toppers was only 17, “which is not significantly higher in numbers than previous years”.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 exam.

However, on Monday, the court said it was not for such a step.

READ | “Retest Our Last Option, Panel Must Probe Paper Leak”: Supreme Court On NEET

The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said it therefore was loathe to order a re-test for nearly 24 lakh students – many of whom come from poor families and could ill-afford to spend money travelling to exam centres – unless necessary. A re-test is the “last option”, it said.

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