Eight Home Guards held for exam mess, court slams minister

Patna: Eight Home Guards were arrested in Bihar on Friday for helping students to copy in Class 10 exam even as the Patna High Court pulled up Education Minister R.P. Shahi for saying that "cheating-free" exams were not possible in the state.

In the first action after pictures of mass copying and cheating in the Class 10 exams created revulsion, the government arrested the Home Guards in Saharsa district, officials said.

The Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) also cancelled examinations at four centres where cases of mass cheating were reported.

"The arrested Home Guards were deployed at different examination centres to ensure free and fair exams but they were found helping the students to copy and cheat," an official said in Saharsa, 210 km from here.

Officials said the arrested men took money from students to let them copy.

In the last three days, TV news channels have shown suspected police officials accepting bribes from students to let them cheat in examination centres. Students were seen copying from books and slips of papers.

In a bizarre case, dozens of people -- said to be family members of the students -- were seen crawling on the walls of an exam centre and flinging answer sheets into various rooms in Vaishali district.

More than 1.4 million students are appearing in the Class 10 board examination. Some students caught cheating have been expelled, Lalkeshwar Prasad, chairman of the BSEB, told the media.

Pictures carried by the media showing mass copying and cheating in school examinations don't reflect the reality in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Friday.

The pictures "do not show the entire story of the state”, he said in a Facebook post.

“Students of Bihar are brilliant and have set an example in the country. A student progresses in life with his capability, not because of certificates,” he said.

At the same time, he told the authorities to be responsible and urged parents to tell their children not to cheat.

"I urge parents, relatives and friends who help the students in cheating that you are ruining the future of the students as well as Bihar."

Meanwhile, the Patna High Court slammed as "very shameful" minister Shahi's statement that cheating-free exams were not possible in the state.

The court, hearing a petition filed by a senior lawyer against Shahi's remarks, expressed its displeasure over the minister's statement.

It directed Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur to ensure free and fair Class 10 board exam across the state. The case will come up for further hearing on March 27.

On Thursday, Shahi said that cheating-free examinations were not possible in Bihar.

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