[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Feb 16: A day after this daily broke the report on the Arunachal Pradesh State Selection Board’s (APSSB) OMR sheet disaster, candidates who claimed to be eyewitnesses alleged that the incident took place in Room No 1 of Eklavya Public School in Jollang, and sought a ‘lifetime ban’ on the candidate.
Agitated candidates also conjectured that “the candidate in question is probably one among many.”
According to candidates who were in the same room as the candidate bearing the roll number 2025546, “the candidate submitted the sheet to the invigilator and rushed out of the room in a hurry.”
The invigilator reportedly tried to stop the candidate, but the candidate had already walked out of the room.
“When the invigilator pointed out that the paper is blank, some candidates asked the invigilator to tear it up or mark a cross over it.
The invigilator also asked the sitting candidates to note down the roll number of the candidate,” one of the candidates told this daily.
The candidate in question is yet to be identified.
Speaking to this daily during a meeting of candidates at the IG Park tennis court here on Sunday evening, candidate Tadar Kaming requested the invigilator not to succumb to political pressure as “many who were in the same room are witnesses to the incident.”
The seemingly upset candidates also proposed to write to the chief minister and the chief secretary to terminate the APSSB’s chairman, secretary and under-secretary from their posts for the incident.
While they welcomed Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s assurance on Sunday that an inquiry would be conducted in the matter, the candidates demanded stern action.
“The sole purpose of constituting this board was to recognize merit, but merit is being murdered here. If the CM really wants a reformation in the recruitment system, he has to take stern action by removing the chairman, secretary and under-secretary,” said Kaming.
“All we are asking is for an equal playing ground. It is also unfair to those who have cleared the examination through their own hard work and perseverance,” he said.
The candidates said they intend to visit the APSSB office on Monday and stage a peaceful protest to demand fresh examination for the posts of lower divisional clerk (LDC) and junior secretariat assistant (JSA) within a month. They said they would demand that the examination be held within the capital complex only “as some candidates reported that the examination centres in Aalo (West Siang) and Seppa (East Kameng) allowed the use of mobile phones.”
The candidates also demanded that the APSSB furnish the answer keys within a day of the examination and display the mark statements of the selected candidates.
“It will not only create transparency but help candidates know which area requires improvement,” they said.
The candidates have also sought an explanation on the APSSB’s failure to comply with the 1:3 ratio provision, and demanded installation of CCTV cameras and jammers in all exam centres.
The candidates warned of launching a series of democratic movements if their demands are not fulfilled.
Meanwhile, condemning the “act of corruption,” the Rajiv Gandhi University Students’ Union said it will also be joining the peaceful protest on 17 February in solidarity with the candidates.
Condemning the incident and terming it a “corrupt practice,” state NPP youth wing president, Bage Kamsi, sought a clarification from the department concerned, and urged the Khandu-led government to “resolve the matter before it takes an ugly turn.”
“It not only demoralizes unemployed aspirants but also demoralizes students belonging from financially poor backgrounds,” Kamsi said.
On allegations of the controller of examination being hand in glove with the candidate in question, APSSB Secretary SK Jain said, “It is absolutely rubbish and we are finding the facts.”
On 14 February, the APSSB published the results of the examination for LDC, JSA and other posts on its website, wherein 315 candidates have been shortlisted for the skill test.
However, on 15 February, the photo of a suspicious optical mark recognition (OMR) sheet was seen doing the rounds on social media. The OMR sheet in circulation bears the roll number 2025546, with the question book series C, and none of the markers has been shaded in the multiple-choice answer sheet.
However, the candidate bearing the roll number 2025546 has been shortlisted for the skill test, as per the result.
According to the results up on the board’s website, there are 122 posts, and 315 candidates have been shortlisted for the skill test.
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has also strongly condemned the anomaly and termed it a “disturbing development.”
It urged the investigating team to immediately go into the crux of the fiasco in a time-bound manner, so that “common masses are able to know what exactly has happened and exemplary punishment be given to the perpetrators of the crime.”
“The incident has forsaken the very foundation of fair play as envisaged by the present state government in recruiting genuine talent and has once again let loose the wagging tails about corruption in recruiting commission as seen in the past,” AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Sunday took to his Twitter handle to inform that an FIR has been registered with the Special Investigation Cell under Section 468, 469, 471, 120B of the IPC and Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in connection with the alleged malpractice in the exam conducted by the APSSB.
“A special team has been constituted to enquire into the matter on priority and will leave no stone unturned,” he tweeted.
Khandu informed that the chief secretary has been directed to “fast-track the alleged irregularities in the exam conducted by the APSSB.”
Promising speedy justice, the CM said: “Those involved won’t be spared, no matter who they are. None can play with future of our youth.”