Explained: What is the Assam Police SI recruitment exam scam?

The recruitment exam for 597 positions at the sub-inspector level in the Assam Police was scheduled for September 20 but had to be cancelled following preliminary reports that the question paper had been leaked.

The leak of a question paper of an examination to recruit sub-inspectors in the Assam Police, followed by scores of arrests and political war of words, has rocked the state for about a month now.

The exam scam

The recruitment exam for 597 positions at the sub-inspector level in the Assam Police — for which over 66,000 candidates were to appear — was scheduled for September 20 but had to be cancelled following preliminary reports that the question paper had been leaked and circulated via WhatsApp.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed the State Level Police Recruitment Board (SLPRB) to re-conduct the examination within a month. The then SLPRB chairperson Pradeep Kumar tendered his resignation taking moral responsibility of the failure to conduct the examination in a free and fair manner. Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta was then appointed as the new chairperson of the SLPRB.

The high-profile arrests

On Thursday, Kumar Sanjit Krishna, an Assam Police Service (APS) officer, currently serving as SP (Foreigners Regional Registration Office) in Barpeta district, was arrested. Until Sunday, he was the SP of the border district of Karimganj. He is the brother of Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna. The arrest followed two-day long interrogation and searches at his residences in Karimganj and Guwahati.

Earlier, Diban Deka, who was associated with the BJP but expelled upon his arrest, and PK Dutta, a former Assam Police DIG, were arrested in the case. Deka claimed in a Facebook post that he has been a member of the state BJP for the last 24 years. He had contested 2011 Assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Barkhetry constituency and lost.

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Over 50 persons have been arrested in the case until now from across the state.

How much money has been recovered?

Raids were conducted in Bongaigaon, Barpeta and Chirang districts on October 10 and 11 in connection with the case and a total amount of Rs 5.35 crore was recovered. In another raid in Guwahati on October 11, around Rs 4.2 lakh cash was recovered.

Among those arrested is Jaydip Borooah, an employee of Dutta. An amount of around Rs 24 lakh was recovered from Borooah’s residence in Guwahati on October 14. Dutta had allegedly collected this amount from candidates and then handed it over to Borooah to hide it.

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What are the latest developments?

Since the beginning of the investigations, police teams have raided two hotels owned by the accused Dutta in Guwahati and claimed to have found incriminating evidence connected to the case, including those connected to a ‘training’ service that was supposedly run – a burnt flex banner and money receipts from candidates, among other things.

Police had said that in one of Dutta’s hotels, n office was set-up where the flex banner was used. The office was used to communicate with candidates who wished to enrol for this ‘training’ for a fee of Rs 10,000 — for which money receipts were given. The candidates were told that they have to ensure that they pass the physical test and rest would be taken care of, according to police.

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Police sources say that the now arrested senior police officer Krishna had played a key role in leaking the question paper in exchange of money. An official statement from the police regarding Krishna’s involvement is awaited.

Also under the radar is Akshay Telecommunication, one of the companies that had a subcontract to conduct the sub-inspector recruitment examination. Rubul Hazarika, a shareholder at Akshay Telecommunication, and his close associate Rupam Das have been arrested. The owner of the company is under treatment at a hospital in Guwahati.

Senior officials say investigations are on to find out the exact modus operandi of the scam.

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How is it playing out politically?

Opposition Congress has sharply criticised the state government and CM Sonowal over the question paper leak. Congress has even demanded Sonowal’s resignation.

Sonowal has reiterated that all culprits in the case will be brought to book as soon as possible. He said the state government was committed to making Assam free from corruption and “has adopted zero-tolerance attitude against corruption”. He has termed the Congress party as “merchants of corruption” and said that the party has “lost the moral rights to criticise others on corruption”.

“Police will investigate everyone based on evidence. Police are investigating their even their own SP — there is no question of sparing anyone,” senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters on Friday.

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