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Army paper leak: Aspirants reveal why they indulged in scam

Updated on: 02 March,2017 09:45 PM IST  | 
Faisal Tandel |

Earning respect emerges as the most common reason why young aspirants indulged willingly in the Army exam paper leak scam

Army paper leak: Aspirants reveal why they indulged in scam

Aspirants wait outside the Thane crime branch to record their statements

Rahim Shaikh* just wanted to make his father proud. The naïve 19-year-old son of an ex-serviceman from Agra, who is one of 350 aspirants caught in the Army recruitment exam paper leak scam, averts his eyes as he nervously paces outside the Thane crime branch office.

“I started applying for a job in the Army when I was 17. This was my eighth attempt. I had applied at Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Lucknow, twice in Roorkee, Ranikhet and twice in Pune,” says Shaikh, who was caught at a raid in Pune.

His father was the one who egged him on to follow in his footsteps. But, he either failed to clear the physical examination, the medical tests or the written examination each time he took a stab at it.

“Even after scoring 80 out of 100 in the written examination, I was still put on the waiting list. Then, I found out that students who had been academically dull had cleared the test,” rues Shaikh. “So, when a man approached me in Pune, offering a chance to realise my dream, I took it. I didn't tell my parents about it. Had I told them, they would have discouraged me from ruining my life,” he says, as he waits to collect his SSC and HSC certificates from the crime branch.

Wanted respect
As in Shaikh's case, a job in the Army is a lifeline for many youths from the hinterland. For Ganesh Shinde* (20) from Beed, making the cut is akin to earning his village's respect. He says his father, also an ex-serviceman, is revered by all back home, and he wanted the same for himself. “Since my village comprises mostly farmers, the only option after my HSC examination other than the Army was farming. But I didn't want that; I wanted to be an Armyman,” he says.

It was during his sixth attempt at recruitment in Pune that he was caught. “Three times, I failed the physical examination. I used to wake up early and run for two hours. The fourth time, I cleared the physical and medical tests, but couldn't get past the written examination. I kept at it despite my family warning me of harassment and large workload in the Army,” he says.

Aspirants wait outside the Thane crime branch to record their statements

Shinde says he was offered the Army question paper for a payment of R2.50 lakh, post selection. “I agreed without telling my parents. I figured my family could mortgage our farmland to get the money once I was selected, and that I would be able to recover the cost within two years of working in the Army.”

Rs 2.50 lakh for paper
Rakesh More (21) from Kolhapur, accompanied by two friends from the same district, says he, too, was asked to pay up R2.50 lakh to get his hands on the question paper. “On December 7, we underwent the physical examination and the medical test on December 22. A day before the written examination in Nagpur (his seventh attempt) on February 26, we got calls from one Santosh Shinde, who claimed to be from an Army recruitment academy. He asked us to meet him near the test centre.”

After reaching the venue, the three were taken in different vehicles to a hall, where they were asked to hand over their SSC and HSC marksheets. “We were told we would have to pay R2.50 lakh once we were recruited and only then would our marksheets be returned. We still don't know how they got our mobile phone numbers. I had seen some agents outside the centre last year, offering students the question paper. This time, I ended up getting caught in their web.”

Army aspirants wait to record their statements at the Thane crime branch officeArmy aspirants wait to record their statements at the Thane crime branch office

Families still in the dark
The aspirants, whose statements have been recorded by the Thane crime branch, have begun to run short of cash. Dharmendar Singh, in his early 20s, who is among a group of four from Haryana sleeping at Thane railway station, tells mid-day, it never dawned on them that there would be repercussions to indulging in the scam. “We still haven't told our parents and have just R200 on us now.”

Singh, who is hoping to collect his marksheets from the Thane crime branch, sums up a number of aspirants' bitterness. “Once we make it out of here, I will give up on my Army job dream.”

(*names changed on request)

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