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NEET cheating plot in Gujarat: Five arrests in a month

Panchmahal SP Himanshu Solanki told DH that cheques worth Rs 2.3 crore were found from the possession of the suspects.
Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 04:30 IST

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Amid the uproar over the alleged malpractices in the NEET-UG exam, police in Gujarat’s Godhra town have arrested five persons over the last one month for their alleged involvement in plotting to help at least 30 students cheat in the national-level competitive exam.

According to police, the accused collected Rs 10 lakh from each student to solve the exam paper. The modus operandi was that the NEET aspirants would select a particular centre to write the exam and leave their OMR sheet blank during the test. Later, one of the accused, who was the exam centre official, would fill in the blank OMR sheets with correct answers.

Panchmahal SP Himanshu Solanki told DH that cheques worth Rs 2.3 crore were found from the possession of the suspects.

The FIR was filed based on a complaint submitted by Godhra district education officer Kirit Patel. Police said the district collector had received a tip-off about the possible malpractice by the suspects at Jay Jalaram School, a designated NEET centre. Police said they kept a close watch on the school.

Under suspicion were the school’s physics teacher Tushar Bhatt, who was the deputy superintendent of NEET-UG at the centre, school principal Purushottam Sharma, Parshuram Roy (who runs an education consultancy), alleged middle man Arif Vora and a Vadodara resident Vibhor Anand.

Police said after the exam, they intercepted Bhatt’s vehicle and found Rs 7 lakh in cash. Bhatt failed to come up with an explanation for the cash. Further questioning of the suspect led to discovery of roll numbers and names of some NEET candidates and their photos.

Subsequently, an FIR was registered on May 8 and all five accused were remanded to judicial custody.

On June 10, a court rejected Bhatt's bail plea.

Opposing the bail plea, the prosecutor told the court many candidates from Maharashtra, Odisha, among other states “specifically chose Jay Jalaram School” as their centre despite them not connected with the school. This fact itself prima facie showed that there was nexus between the participants and the accused.”

The court's order denying bail to Bhatt quoted the prosecution's argument that primary investigation revealed “OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheets were kept blank by the particular candidates and these sheets were kept separately by the accused.” The sheets were to be filled by Bhatt and co-accused Sharma later.

“We identified several students whose names and roll numbers were found from the suspects’ phones. We are trying to trace the others with the help of testing agency,” Solanki told DH.

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Published 15 June 2024, 04:30 IST

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