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Godhra NEET Probe: CBI says it's looking into interstate, broader conspiracy

On Friday, the agency approached the Godhra court seeking custody of four of the accused including, Aarif Noor Mohammed Vohra, Purshottam Sharma, Vibhor Anand and Tushar Bhatt
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 13:06 IST

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday said that "a larger conspiracy exists involving interstate links in the NEET (UG) examination related irregularities."

The agency, which took over the multi-crore cheating case in Godhra along with other related cases registered in Bihar, among other states, said that there is a possibility that the accused involved in this case could be part of a broader conspiracy spread in several states. 

Earlier this week, the CBI recently took over the investigation from local police which had arrested five accused persons and recovered cash and blank cheques amounting to Rs 2.3 crore given by the parents of the students.

On Friday, the agency approached the Godhra court seeking custody of four of the accused including, Aarif Noor Mohammed Vohra, Purshottam Sharma, Vibhor Anand and Tushar Bhatt. The CBI told the court that these suspects "possess crucial information pertinent to exposing the broader conspiracy orchestrating the manipulation of the examination."

According to Godhra police findings, Vohra is alleged to have worked as a middle man while Sharma was the principal of Jay Jalaram School where NEET exam was held. Bhatt was the physics teacher in the same school.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) had appointed Sharma as city-coordinator and Bhatt as deputy superintendent of exam. The CBI didn't seek custody of fifth accused Parshuram Roy, who runs an education consultancy service in Vadodara. 

Arguing for custody, the central probe agency said that the accused "induced" the candidates to select the two schools in Godhra as their centres and chose Gujarati as their preferred language. 

"They knew that last year also these two centres conducted these exams. They knew that OMR sheets were kept in the examination hall overnight. They knew they had the opportunity to manipulate the OMR sheets. So, what these four were doing was inducing the candidates who gave them blank cheques, money and once the candidates were in Godhra, they (accused) were briefing them (candidate) as well as their parents," CBI lawyer told the court.

CBI in its remand application has stated that the accused even made the students, hailing from Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Odisha, show their present or permanent address as Panchmahal and Vadodara districts. "These candidates were arranged through various means by the accused persons and their links in other states," the remand application read, submitted by Deputy Superintendent of police, CBI, Puspal Paul.

CBI has so far registered 4 number of FIRs in various states related to NEET (UG) examination "in order to unearth the larger conspiracy and investigate the pan India nature of the irregularities...".

When the court sought reason as to why it should grant custody merely because the investigating agency had changed, the CBI lawyer argued, "There are 24 lakh students who applied and 23 lakh who appeared physically in the examination. This probe is crucial for their future and hence the court has to make an exception and provide opportunity for custodial interrogation. Also, he said that the probe is crucial for the fact that the government has to answer the Supreme Court on July 8 about the investigation."

The court is likely to pronounce the order on Saturday, June 29.

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Published 28 June 2024, 13:06 IST

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