The Bhandup police, which busted the Mumbai University (MU) examination racket last week, were in for a shock yesterday when they were informed that the number of missing/tampered answer sheets stands at 127, instead of 94, as thought earlier.
The MU, which has formed its own inquiry panel to probe the racket, has told the police that after scanning the data, they have found out that 33 more answer sheets are suspected to have been tampered with or damaged.
“From the interrogation of the accused, we believed that only 94 answer sheets were taken out, but the university informed us that 33 more answer sheets were fraudulently taken out of the university and not returned,” said an MU officer told mid-day, adding that yesterday, nearly 87 students were identified from the seized answer sheets.
“As of now, information related to over 90 students, which include a mix of second and third-year engineering students, has been shared with the police. These students belonged to 20 colleges, which were exam centres, and most of these institutes are in Navi Mumbai,” said Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, MU VC.
A senior police officer who is part of the investigation team said they are likely to inform the parents of these identified students first to avoid any extreme reactions, like suicide. The students are unlikely to be arrested and would be charged directly in the case.
Shripad Kale, senior inspector of Bhandup police station, said, “We will record the statement of the identified students and would take action as per the law.”
On Saturday, main accused Prabhakar Vaze (52) was arrested since he is the custodian of answer sheets. He is assumed to be the kingpin of the racket, which been running since last year. Three junior clerks and four peons, also arrested, fraudulently took out answer sheets from MU’s Exam Bhavan at Kalina to allow students to tamper with them before evaluation.
Of the 33 more answer sheets, two were seized based on the information given by the accused. A search for the 31 others, which police fear were probably destroyed after the racket was unearthed.
Apart from the 8 arrested, police have booked five private person-agents and an engineering student (who was first found in possession with the answer sheet in Bhandup). The answer sheets mainly were of Applied Mathematics and Engineering Mechanics.
Another two clerks of the university are also wanted in the case. The eight accused will be produced in the Mulund court today. Police might ask for an extension of their custody since the number has drastically increased in a day.
Deshmukh told media, “We have written to the police commissioner, asking him to form a committee and find the security loopholes at MU and recommend suggestions. We have already started identifying areas that require CCTV installations. Physical frisking has already begun at examination section.”
Employees who run the Mumbai University are hired on temporary basis.
“State is not sanctioning new non-teaching posts for varsity. This is why there are thousands of employees working in university on temporary basis,” said Deshmukh.
— Inputs by Pallavi Smart