ITANAGAR, Mar 6: Hundreds of candidates took out a peaceful protest rally from Dera Natung Government College to the Raj Bhavan here on Friday to register their protest against the malpractice in the lower divisional clerk (LDC)/junior secretariat assistant (JSA) examination conducted by the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board (APSSB) on 2 February.
Seeking suspension of the APSSB’s former chairman AC Verma, member GS Meena, and joint secretary Tamune Miso to ensure an impartial inquiry into the malpractice in the APSSB, the candidates said an impartial inquiry could not be expected unless these members are put under suspension, as well.
While the state government has fulfilled some of the urgent demands of the agitating candidates, the update from Chief Minister Pema Khandu during the assembly session regarding the involvement of at least 20 candidates in the scam has perturbed the other candidates and left them wondering how deep corruption has run into the system.
The protesting candidates demanded that the names of the “bribe-giving candidates” be disclosed to the public, and that they be debarred from appearing in further examinations.
When this daily tried to get the names of the candidates who were involved in the cash-for-job scam, sources in the special investigation cell said “it is an ongoing investigation and the names would be revealed as the investigation progresses.”
The agitating candidates said they suspect that “all the officers are hand-in-glove in the examination malpractice,” and reiterated their demand for the suspension of Verma, Meena and Miso.
The candidates submitted a memorandum to Governor BD Mishra through his deputy secretary, to be submitted to the president of India.
Former APSSB undersecretary Kapter Ringu and secretary SK Jain have already been put under suspension by the government.
The agitating candidates demanded that the UDC examination held last year also be cancelled – the way the new board members have cancelled the LDC/JSA examination of this year – and fresh dates for it be announced.
Placing their trust in the two-member inquiry committee, comprising Principal Resident Commissioner Jitendra Narain and Home Commissioner Kaling Tayeng, the candidates sought a thorough investigation and early conduct of the examinations in question.
The committee has been formed to inquire into the malpractices in the LDC/JSA examination conducted by the board on 2 February, and it will submit its report within 21 days. The order for the committee was issued on 3 March.
The candidates also said that a state award and a government job should be given to the whistleblower who helped expose the scam.
The malpractice in the LDC/JSA examination came to light soon after the results were declared on 14 February, when a blank OMR sheet bearing the roll number 2025546 started doing the rounds on social media. The candidate with the roll number had qualified for the skill test, which had raised alarm among the other candidates.
Soon after, the SIC initiated inquiry into the matter and the candidate, identified as Senia Bagang, along with alleged broker Mongam Basar, was arrested by the SIC on 18 February. A non-bailable warrant was issued against the APSSB’s then undersecretary, Kapter Ringu, on the same day. She was arrested on 20 February.
The APSSB’s data entry operators, Khem Raj and Tame Tania, were arrested on 19 and 20 February, respectively, for tampering with the examination process. It emerged later that Raj and Tania had also appeared for the LDC/JSA examination, and had been selected for the skill test.
The APSSB is the pet project of the chief minister, who had said that illegal appointments in the state would be curbed after the formation of the APSSB, before the board was caught in the cash-for-job scam.