The National Defence Academy (NDA) went into a tizzy on December 31 when officials discovered one extra young man among the batch of freshly joined cadets. Finally, it was found that an 18-year-old from Kashmir was trying to pose as a cadet with a fake joining letter from the academy.
After officials checked the submitted documents and matched the list of 300 new cadets with those present, they identified the imposter as Anmol Vijay Banotra. Banotra was handed over to the police, who booked him for cheating. He is currently in police custody.
NDA aspirants have to appear for a written exam and a personal interview conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Only a few hundred from up to three lakh hopefuls are selected from throughout the country.
Banotra had failed to crack the NDA entrance exam last year, said Police Inspector (Crime) P N Solankar from the Warje police station. "He had been preparing for the exam for long and was keeping a tab on the joining date for selected cadets on the internet. Banotra has a few friends who are training at the academy and forged the joining letter that the academy posts to all selected candidates," he said.
Banotra entered NDA on December 30, the same day as the original batch, but not along with them.
The final selected candidates assemble at the Pune railway station at the army's Movement Control Office (MCO) and are transported to the academy in an NDA bus.
"He ensured he doesn't mingle with the other cadets, who too did not suspect anything and also did not contact his friends who are already undergoing training. But his name was not in the list of 300 cadets when officials started corroborating with authorities in the UPSC. Banotra stayed at the academy till January 4, Wednesday, when NDA finally confirmed the fraud," Solankar said.
Banotra was handed over to the police on Wednesday. He was produced in court, which granted a five-day remand. "We have booked him for cheating and forgery," Solankar said.
Selection procedure for defence academy
The NDA entrance exam carries 900 marks and is conducted every May and October by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Two to three lakh candidates appear for the exam, which only a few thousand are able to crack. They are then sent for the Services Selection Boards (SSB) centres in Allahabad, Bhopal and Bangalore. Candidates stay at the centres for 15 days, when they go through an exhaustive selection procedure, which includes at least five different kinds of IQ, intelligence, personality and group tests along with field obstacles. Those who clear all the tests are sent for a final medical test, but the results are not declared immediately. The final merit list from all the centres is then declared a month later on the UPSC website and joining instructions from the UPSC and NDA are posted to their residences.