Bhopal: Students of Madhya Pradesh Agriculture College and aspirants for officer post in the Agriculture Department hinted towards another scam in the recruitment drive for the posts of 862 State Agriculture Officers.
In an examination to recruit 862 officers for the Agriculture Department conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or Vyapam held on February 10 and 11 this year, all top ten highest scorers are from the same region, studied in the same college of Gwalior, nine are from the same caste and almost all the candidates completed their four-year Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) degrees in five or more years.
More so, all top ten rankers committed the same mistakes in their answer sheets and scored similar marks in the general knowledge paper of the entrance examination. They secured between 194 to 196 out of 200. Among the toppers, a candidate who had failed multiple times in Statistics exam and completed his four year degree in eight years have shockingly secured full marks in mathematics section of the paper, alleged students.
MPPEB, which was previously named Vyapam, is infamous for rigging the entrance examination of medical colleges in 2013-14, popularly known as the Vyapam Scam and the CBI is still investigating the case.
A group of 10-15 candidates who had appeared in the examination flagged the coincidence or alleged irregularities after the MPPED uploaded the answer sheet of the entrance exam on Feb 17 and gave wrong answers to nearly six questions. Coincidently, the top scorers also gave the same wrong answers in their answer sheets, raising suspicion.
"Some of our fellow candidates have already told us that few students (toppers) of Gwalior centre have told some of the ex-students of their Gwalior college that they were going to be selected 100% before the exam. Hence, we connected the dots and began our investigation," Ranjeet Ragunath, a candidate from Indore Agriculture College told NewsClick.
"Upon investigation, we found that all top ten highest scorers in the exam are from Chambal division of the State, nine are from the same caste, they made the same mistakes, and all of them passed from a government agriculture college in Gwalior. Almost all the candidates completed their four-year degrees in five or more years,” Ragunath said.
"For example, the question 97 of paper asked, Apple is normally planted at a space of ____? The options were 1. 4*4, 2. 1*1, 3. 2*2 and 4. 6*6. The correct answer was 4, but as per the answer sheet released by the MPPEB it was 1. Interestingly, all toppers marked 1," he explained adding that just like this, the toppers gave the wrong answers to five other questions in their answer sheets same as the mistakenly given wrong answers present in the uploaded answer sheet.
Another candidate Nitesh Chaturvedi from Tikamgarh Agriculture College, who had also appeared in the examination, claimed, "Candidates scored full marks in the general knowledge section even though three questions were wrong. They also secured 195 and 194 marks out of 200 that are the highest scores in the history of the exam.”
After the students flagged the mistakes in the answer sheet and coincidences, MPPED removed the uploaded answer sheet from the website on February 26, they claimed.
It's a conspiracy just like the Vyapam scam or just a coincidence, I don't know. But it's impossible that all the toppers gave the same wrong answers and those who completed their degrees in more than 5-year secured the top ran. They can't be master of the subject overnight," pointed out another candidate Balram Parihar.
"MPPEB hired such a company which is blacklisted in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Railways for allegedly leaking questions papers of various governments examination," said Ranjeet Ragunath, alleging that as per their sources, special arrangements were made for nearly 300-400 students in a hotel in Gwalior days before the exam and question papers were leaked to them.
Students claimed that it is the same company that was blacklisted in Uttar Pradesh after a question paper of the recruitment exam for sub-inspectors got leaked in 2017. Tamil Nadu blacklisted the company after reports of leaking papers of recruitment exams including teachers' requirement. Besides, Railway also suspended it's services after irregularities reported in Protection officers' recruitment.
"Now, we are waiting for the results, which will clarify how many students from Gwalior centre have been selected in the final list and we will probe further," Raghunath added.
On Monday, the candidates also met with the State Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel with their doubts over the examination and handed over the documents related to the alleged scam.
Students also alleged that the toppers' names had also surfaced in the infamous 2013 Vyapam Scam.
However, Krishnan Dwivedi, state head of NSEIT of Madhya Pradesh, refused to comment, saying, “We have adopted the best and fair method in conducting the exam. The candidates have the right to raise their voices, but only MPPEB is authorised to clear the doubts of candidates. We can’t comment on this issue.”
When contacted, Shanmuga Priya Mishra, MPPEB Director, said, "Students' allegations entirely based on coincidences. We are looking into the matter and we will act accordingly if we found any foul play.
The candidates alleged that not only Agriculture, irregularities have also been noticed in group-4 and constable recruitment drive. The State which is infamous for having rigged medical entrance examinations in 2013, is yet again facing allegations of rigging recruitment examinations.