As nearly 20 lakh students take the Class 10 and 12 board exams in Madhya Pradesh, reports claiming multiple question paper leaks have raised tough questions for the government and demoralised students working hard to achieve their ambitions.
It is alleged that question papers of 12 out of the 15 exams held so far have leaked online, and that they are selling for as low as Rs 299 on social media sites.
The state government has denied the paper leak allegations. But 35 people, including teachers and non-teaching staff, have been arrested for alleged mishandling of question papers.
In one of the cases, the English question paper for Class 12 students leaked at a government school in Dhar last week. The district administration intervened and teachers and the school clerk were arrested. Collector Priyank Mishra said, "We went to Kanya High School Nalcha and traced the question paper that was being circulated on social media. It matched with the question paper scanned from this centre."
A day later, another case was reported in Raisen district. An accused, identified as Mandideep, had allegedly made over 4 lakh rupees by providing leaked question papers to about 600 students.
In a new case reported this Monday, the Physics paper for Class 12 students leaked at a government school in Damoh. District collector S Krishna Chaitnya intervened and the peon of the school was arrested. The next day, the Maths paper for Class 12 boards leaked at St Xavier's school in Umaria and 5 people were arrested. The subjects the question papers of which were leaked included Hindi, English, Biology, Physics and Maths.
For Class 10 students, a paper scheduled for March 1 allegedly circulated on social media on March 1. On March 11, the maths paper for Class 10 was viral 21 minutes before the exam began. Three days later, the Class 10 Sanskrit paper was on social media 50 minutes before the exam.
Opposition Congress raised the issue in the Assembly. Leader of the Opposition Dr Govind Singh said, "The question papers of Class 10 and Class 12 are being leaked. Several persons have been caught in some districts. They are playing around with the lives of 20 lakh students in the state. We request the government to stop this."
School Education minister Inder Singh Parmar denied the allegations. "We checked the question papers that went viral. They are fake. This is being done to confuse the children. Our department has submitted an application to the crime branch and action has been initiated. We are going to track down all those involved in spreading confusion," he said. "If someone belonging to our department or outside is found guilty, we will take strict action," he added.
The reports of leaks have demoralised students. Rudra Soni, a Class 12 student from a government school in Bhopal, said, "We have been working hard but if our marks go down, who will be responsible?"
Another student Kartikeya Singh said, "We study throughout the year. The board should ensure the security of the question papers. Such leaks demoralise students."
Vijay Singh, a student's parent, said, "Children become nervous, lose their urge to study when papers are available in the market."