The Class 12 English exam of the Uttar Pradesh school board was cancelled in 24 districts on Wednesday after the question paper was leaked, prompting CM Yogi Adityanath to order invoking the stringent National Security Act in the case.
The Ballia police has arrested an official and 16 others, a senior official said. The official has also been suspended.
The CM has ordered the Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh Police to probe the case.
The English paper cancelled in 24 districts will now be held on April 13, an official statement said here.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the Ballia DM and SP got information on Wednesday morning that the second shift paper has been leaked.
The exam was to be held at 2 pm.
Kumar said two of the accused were arrested from Ballia’s Kotwali police station area, 10 from Nagra and five from the Sikandarpur area.
A case was registered against the accused under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, IT Act and the Uttar Pradesh Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1998.
”Ballia DIoS (Director Inspector of Schools) is among those arrested,” he said.
UP Secondary Education Minister Gulab Devi said, ”It appears the English question paper of Class 12 was leaked in Ballia. The matter is being looked into and strict action will be taken against the guilty.” Asked why the exam was cancelled in only 24 districts, she said it was done in only those districts where the leaked paper was distributed.
Earlier the state government in a statement said, ”The English paper with series 316 ED and 316 EI was leaked before the exam that was to begin at 2 pm. The incident was treated with seriousness by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. DIoS of Ballia Brajesh Kumar Mishra has been suspended and the STF has been asked to investigate the matter.” It said the stringent National Security Act (NSA) will be slapped against those found involved in the incident.
The NSA allows preventive detention for months if the authorities feel that someone is a threat to national security or law and order.
The exam in 24 districts will be held on April 13 in the first shift between 8 am and 11.15 am.
The state government has also launched helplines and asked students to reach out to the UP board in case of any difficulty.
Additional Chief Secretary, Information Department, Navneet Sehgal, told PTI that the CM’s NSA order was in line with the state government’s earlier warning that the stringent law will be invoked in such a case.
Ballia SP R K Nayyar said the question paper was found in mobile phones of some of the suspects.
The English exam was cancelled in Agra, Mainpuri, Mathura, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Bagpat, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Unnao, Sitapur, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Jalaun, Chitrakoot, Ambedkar Nagar, Pratapgarh, Gonda, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Ballia, Varanasi, Kanpur Dehat, Etah and Shamli districts.
With the incident occurring close on the heels of the start of the second innings of the Adityanath government, the Opposition seized the opportunity to hit out at the BJP regime.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the Adityanath government of not ”wanting” the exam to be completed. ”The business of paper leak continues even in the second term of the BJP government. The youth are saying the government doesn’t want any exam to be completed because it has failed in providing employment,” Yadav tweeted.
”The BJP government should run paper bulldozers on paper mafia, at least for show,” said Yadav, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly.
BSP president Mayawati tweeted, ”After the paper leak, the examination had to be cancelled in 24 districts, including Gorakhpur and Varanasi. Is it right to play with the lives of children again and again?” ”Due to frequent paper leaks in UP, it seems the copying mafia is out of the grip of the government but who is the real culprit,” she asked, demanding strict action against the culprits.