Paper leak scam sparks differing opinions

Monday Musing

[ Amar Sangno ]

The Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission’s (APPSC) paper leak scam, which once appeared to be a ‘uniting machine’ among the aspirants and student leaders in the fight against the scam-ridden commission and the corruption infested system, is now gradually turning into a platform of discontentment and disagreement.

It was evident that a larger section of the aspirants lapped up the news when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) finally took over the investigation of the entire scam from the Special Investigation Cell (SIC). However, some sections who have been rooting for the SIC, have been left murmuring. The aspirants who are batting for the CBI argued that they have lost faith in the states’ investigating agency, alleging that the SIC works at the whims and fancies of the state government – in other words, that it is a “caged parrot.”

On the contrary, the pro-SIC section, including All Nyishi Students’ Union (ANSU) president Nabam Dodum, said that they felt that the SIC was more effective than the CBI, as the SIC team did an appreciable job by arresting 46 people involved in the scam so far. The country’s premier investigating agency is an independent organisation, unlike the SIC. It is answerable neither to the state government nor to the aspirants and the student organisations that impatiently wanted the investigation to be fast-tracked.

Similarly, on the 13-point charter of demands of the ANSU-Pan Arunachal Joint Steering Committee (PAJSC), the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) on Saturday opposed the proposal to declare null and void all the scam-ridden examinations conducted by the commission. The aspirants launched an ongoing social media campaign on Twitter, with the hashtag Null_n_Void #SCRAP_THE EXAM, last Thursday.

“The relevant question is whether question papers were leaked, not who are genuine and who were bogus,” said Kyagung Dafri, an aspirant who said he wants all suspect exams to be scrapped or declared null and void. On the other hand, the candidates who cleared the examination argued that declaring the exams null and void is not the answer.

“For the fault of others, the whole batch must not suffer,” one of them said.

Another candidate and serving officer said, “Why should we be punished for someone else’s iniquity?”

The AAPSU also has divergent views on the aspirants’ demand for compensation of Rs 5 lakhs each to the aspirants who have been affected by the scam. The AAPSU argued that the demand for declaring the exams null and void is not justified and fresh examinations should also be continued, subject to adherence to the new APPSC standard operating procedures (SOP).

The AAPSU argued that the APPSC paper leak issue needs a logical end with a thorough investigation, and that, while the culprits must be punished, at the same time the system should be cleansed once for all with foolproof SOPs, so that such scam may never be repeated. However, at the same time, it stressed that candidates who have genuinely cracked the state civil service exam must not be made to suffer at the cost some wrongdoers.

The scam, orchestrated by main accused Taket Jerang, has taken a giant shape that no person would have possibly ever imagined. As per the SIC revelation, Jerang has been operating this question papers selling scam based on ‘three-principles modus operandi’: photocopy before going for print; blank answer sheets filled outside the examination centre or hotels; and specific answer sheets filled later (for those who failed the exams).

The shell-shocked state government is scrambling around to reassure the aspirants who have condemned the commission that they would soon be “redeemed with new and fresh commission members and chairman with foolproof system.”

The AAPSU wants the system to be cleaned up, but not in the manner that recalcitrant aspirants are demanding. When the stakeholders are at loggerheads over the most contentious issue the state is currently facing, where would the month-long movement head? It accentuates the old saying: United we stand, divided we fall.

Hope the disagreement and discontentment among the stakeholders will not weaken the movement, lest the cheaters and scammers have their heydays in the days to come.