Bihar Impersonation Fraud: There's More Than Meets the Eye
The Bihar police constable recruitment examination for selecting candidates for 9,900 posts was conducted between October 15 and 22, 2017, and was attempted by over 11 lakh candidates. The candidates who passed the written examination needed to pass another round of examination called the Physical Evaluation Test (PET), which carries 100 marks and is meant to test the physical fitness of the candidates. The final merit list of candidates was prepared based on the results of the PET. On November 27, 2018, the Central Selection Board released a list of 229 candidates who made a ‘scholar’ take the written exam on their behalf. Scholar is a term used for fake candidates who appear for someone else in the exams, and there was no dearth of such people in the merit list. For example, the name of Vindhyachal Kumar of Kinarbola village is included in the merit list and has been appointed in Dumrao sub-division of Buxar district despite also being there in the list of fraudsters. A two-member investigating team was formed on the instructions of superintendent of police Rakesh Kumar which included ‘police inquiry officer’ Anil Kumar Mehrotra to examine the details of the candidates.
The investigation found that Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Munger district, Preeti Kumari of Khagaria district, Aman Kumar of Bhagalpur district and Anuj Kumar of Patna district, came under suspicion as their handwriting and signature failed to match with that on original application form. When questioned, they conceded that they had succeeded in the written examination with the help of scholars.
The recruitment process for the selected candidates was scheduled from July 5, 2018 to 5 August 2018. One of the successful candidates, Nandan Kumar of Munger district, submitted his documents for verification. The examiners found his documents doubtful as there were several variations. During the physical examination, Nandan’s face did not match with the one on paper, and his height and chest measurements did not match. There were differences too in the identification mark sent by him and the identification marks sent by the Council. An FIR was lodged against Nandan for having used a scholar, and he was finally arrested by sub-inspector Sanjay Kumar on July 26, 2019. In Bihar’s Sheohar district, a scholar named Rajneesh Kumar took Rs 2.5 lakh to appear for one Roshan Kumar to take the PET, according to Sheohar superintendent of police Santosh Kumar. Rajneesh assured Roshan that he would be selected, but before he could join, the discrepancies in his height, chest width and signature were found and was caught.
The number of defaulting candidates caught during the PET was around 1,800 and the number of defaulters in the written exam was expected to be so high that it has not even being investigated till date. As the days are passing, many new revelations pertaining to this fraud are coming up every other day. As per a government notification, Nitish Kumar had announced 35% reservation for women in the direct recruitment of constables and sub-inspectors in 2013.
However, among the results of 9,900 constables, 6,643 women and 3,196 men had been selected. The women were selected in 67.52% posts while men were selected only in 32.48% posts. The then Lok Sabha MP Pappu Yadav claimed that the rules of reservation were not followed in the recruitment process and women had been appointed at an unexpected number. The students filed two RTIs in CSBC to clarify their doubt regarding the cut-off marks for male and female candidates belonging to general category but to everyone’s surprise, the RTIs depicted two entirely different information on the cut off marks for female candidates. In the RTI reply dated July 23, 2018, the cut off for the female candidates in general category was 78. While in the second RTI reply dated September 12, 2018, the cut off for the female candidates in general category was 52. Although the then Bihar DGP KS Dwivedi stated that failure is the reason for the protest by the boys, but the unsuccessful candidates alleged that giving more fraudulent seats to the female candidates seemed a part of a larger conspiracy.
The Bihar administration had arrested two students belonging to ‘Bihar Police Safal Chhatra Sangh’ (Bihar Police Successful Students’ Union, an organisation formed by students alleging corruption in recruitment process), on February 21, 2018 in order to inculcate a sense of fear in them. The DGP KS Dwivedi told Avinash Pandey (name changed), a member of BPSCS, “I very well know students like you, who first fail in exams and then protest on streets, no one is going to believe you.” Avinash then pleaded the DGP to match his photographs and signature on the declaration to judge whether he’s genuine. Around 5:30 pm, Dwivedi agreed for a viva after completion of which he told the latter to sign on five blank papers to prove the authenticity of his signature, but the SHO Rakesh Kumar Bhaskar snatched papers from his hand before he could sign twice and sent him to jail. The documents which Avinash submitted at the time of application were in the hands of Rakesh Bhaskar, but he didn’t let DGP match those with the signatures done on those two papers. Avinash Pandey spent 73 days in Phulwari Sharif Jail in Patna. He asked the jailer to provide him with a piece of paper to write a letter to the CM, but they failed to provide him that too. After his release, he moved further to file an RTI to CSBC requesting the xerox of the declaration and the authority stated that, “He is a genuine candidate but has not been appointed due to his absence in PET”.
After the uproar regarding the impersonation fraud, the CSBS began to investigate the documents of 417 candidates who were in the merit list and whose signatures didn’t match. The board sent the samples of signatures along with handwriting on the OMR sheet to the forensic lab for investigation under the supervision of CID. Out of 417 candidates, the report of 233 candidates confirmed impersonation which ended with filing of a FIR by ADG Jitendra Kumar against these students in Gardanibagh police station on 6 November 2018. Amid the outcry over the fraud, a new notice issued by DGP KS Dwivedi on November 9, 2018 called for cancellation of the upcoming exam for Bihar Police constable recruitment scheduled on November 25 and December 2, 2018 after issuing admit cards to the candidates.
In February 2019, Bihar MLC Prem Chandra Mishra, in the floor of the house, claimed that over 4,500 students have been selected only from Nalanda district, which also happens to be the home district of CM Nitish Kumar. The Congress leader further stated that out of 9,900 appointed constables, only 64 of them belonged to general category and accused the Bihar government of favouring certain castes and not following the reservation norms properly. Furthermore, only five among these 64 constables belonged to male category.
The newly appointed Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey who succeeded KS Dwivedi has stated that he has no information about any such impersonation fraud happening in Bihar and he is not authorised to take any action on it. The Bihar CM asked media not to focus on negative things happening in the state, but for most students, the likelihood of attaining even low-ranking government jobs, with their promise of long-term employment and state pensions, is incredibly distant. The Bihar DGP’s unwillingness to accept the reality of this fraud even after Rajiv Mishra, an IPS officer from Gaya, publicly acknowledged the rampant impersonation, is because the government does not want to risk the image of ‘Sushasan Babu’ anymore as it has already drawn up a long list of scams and administrative failures. If a fair investigation is done, it might lead to several other names which the BJP-JDU would definitely want to avoid, given they are already traversing choppy waters with Death of children in Muzaffarpur, the Srijan scam, the Toilet scam, the Paddy scam, Stadium Scam and the Scholarship scam to name a few.
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