Seventy-three people, including two father-son duos and more than five dozen 'qualified' candidates, who were arrested in the Himachal Pradesh Police Recruitments Paper leak scam, were found out to have transacted money to the bank accounts of agents belonging to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand.
The scam, currently being investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), seems to have put the ruling BJP government in huge embarrassment ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled in November 2022. The party members and leaders believe that the scam will severely dent the party’s image in the state and outside as the police in Himachal Pradesh have always been rated one of the best.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur admitted to Outlook on Thursday that the government was really shocked over the paper leak although it was the ‘doings’ of some criminal minds.
“Our conscious is very clear. I believe in complete transparency. We will not hide anything nor will spare anyone, whether the culprits are the people from the department (police) or private individuals. The matter has now been referred to the CBI for a fair and thorough investigation. The SIT, I had got set-up, has done exemplary work to unearth the scam,” Thakur said.
After the arrest of two masterminds, Shiv Bahadur Singh from Varanasi and Aman Singh from Bihar, the SIT on Wednesday nabbed another ‘agent’ Rohnit Dankar from Panipat in Haryana.
“I have asked Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu that till CBI takes over the case, the SIT must continue its investigations and nab all the criminals and those brains behind the racket. There should be no laxity in the matter," Thakur added.
"More than 1.86 lakh youths, in almost every district of the state, have appeared in the police recruitment of 1,300 constables. Of these 75,803 (14,563 of them females) shortlisted had appeared in the written examination conducted by the broad set-up at the police headquarters under an additional Director General of Police (ADGP)," said IPS officer J P Singh.
Singh, who initially had proceeded on leave, had already been removed from the post. In his place, Abhishek Trivedi, AGPG (Law and Order), who recently returned from the central deputation, has been given the charge of Armed Police and Training.
The questions are being raised on the role of top officers, who were handling the police constables recruitment process at the Police headquarters. The paper already stands cancelled.
Director-General of Police I D Bhandari, who is now in the Aam Aadmi Party, said, “The first thing, which should have been done by the government, was ordering a departmental inquiry. It’s the failure of the officer in charge of recruitment to discharge his responsibility in a fair and transparent manner. The criminality of the crime will be established later but disciplinary proceedings must have been ordered."
He said it was shocking that the careers of 75,000 youths — the police job aspirants, who earlier suffered job losses and faced uncertainties during the Covid time -- have been put in jeopardy.
Is it a systemic failure or loss of trust in the recruitment system that aspirants paid Rs 6-8 lakhs to the agents for joining? Some parents said that they had also sold their land and movable properties to pay an “agreed” amount to the agents.
The scam came to light following a viral audio clip. Later the interviews of a few very successful candidates, who secured 80 per cent, led to further doubts. When questioned, the youths failed to give a single answer. This raised the suspicion and finally, the detained candidates confessed that the paper was leaked.
A day before the written test on March 27, the candidates were taken outside the state and were given a “leaked” paper with correct answers. The next morning, they were directly dropped at their examination centres, after having been detained overnight for the ‘help’ in lieu of cash.