On Friday night, applicants from Srikakulam district of north coastal Andhra Pradesh, staying at a Hanamkonda hostel, came across their competition - men from as far away as Rajasthan and Haryana. Though they themselves did not fulfill the nativity criterion, they were not amused to find people from outside Andhra Pradesh. A riot soon broke out.
What is now emerging is a large scam, complete with the involvement of local bureaucrats and retired and serving army officers. On Monday, 70 people were arrested for rioting and cheating.
The "imposters" were armed with fake certificates of residency that were sold to the out-of-Telangana candidates for thousands of rupees. The police believes two Army men may have been involved with the scam, and is trying to track them down. Some of the applicants found with fake documents claim they bought these from a retired army officer.
"The local police identified it as fraud. We are demanding re-verification," said B.Vinod Kumar, a leader of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS), the party that's leading the campaign for a separate Telangana state.
"We in the Indian Army cannot ask the people to leave. Everyone with a seemingly valid certificate we have to accept. We will do the reverification later," says Commander Thomas, a spokesperson for the Army.
The larger concern for many is that with fake certificates apparently available fairly easily, militants could try and use them to enter the Army.
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