NEET row protest

NSUI activists raise slogans during their 'Chhattra Sansad Gherav' protest against the alleged irregularities in NEET-UG and cancellation of UGC-NET exams, in New Delhi, on Monday, June 24. PTI

NEET exam row: CBI probe in 4 phases, to scour 1,000 phone numbers

The CBI on Sunday filed a fresh FIR against unidentified persons under IPC sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating), among others

The Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) teams on Monday (June 24) reached Bihar and Gujarat to investigate the case of alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG medical entrance exam held on May 5.

A CBI team reached Godhra city in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district while another team reached the office of the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of the Bihar Police in Patna.

The EOU, which had been investigating the matter until the Centre ordered a probe by the CBI, has arrested 18 people in connection with the case, officials said.

CBI's fresh FIR

The CBI on Sunday filed a fresh FIR against unidentified persons under IPC sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating), among others, amid countrywide protests and litigation by students for a probe into the paper leak claims.

The racket was unearthed at a Godhra school designated as a centre for the NEET-UG, held on May 5 for entrance to medical colleges, after the district collector received a tip-off that some persons were involved in malpractice, as per the FIR registered on May 9.

According to a report on NDTV, the CBI’s investigation will involve four phases, scrutinising every aspect from the creation and printing of exam papers to their distribution across various examination centres in the country.

Also, the report stated that the CBI will use a database of 1,000 names and phone numbers to trace those connected with the alleged paper leaks.

“Utilising a database of 1,000 names and phone numbers compiled during previous investigations, CBI is tracing those who may be connected to the leaks. This data, obtained from multiple cases including Vyapam, aids in identifying suspects and establishing communication patterns that could reveal the nexus behind the leaks,” the report said.

Exams cancelled

The NEET-UG exam is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

While the medical entrance exam question paper was allegedly leaked, according to an investigation by the Bihar Police, UGC-NET was cancelled a day after it was conducted following input that the exam's integrity had been compromised. Both the matters are now being investigated by the CBI.

Two other exams – NEET-PG and CSIR-UGC NET – have been cancelled by the government amid the row.

On Saturday (June 22), the Ministry of Education handed over the investigation into the alleged irregularities in NEET-UG examination to the CBI.

“National Testing Agency (NTA) conducted NEET(UG) Examination on 5th May 2024 in OMR (Pen and paper) mode. Certain cases of alleged irregularities / cheating / impersonation / malpractices have been reported.

“For transparency on the conduct of the examination process, the Ministry of Education, Government of India after a review has decided to entrust the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for comprehensive investigation,” the ministry said in a statement.

Opposition MPs to raise NEET issue in Parliament

Meanwhile, Opposition MPs said on the first day of the 18th Lok Sabha that the government will have to answer about the NEET controversy in Parliament.

Several newly-elected members who took oath in the Lok Sabha on Monday said the government is not considering the hardship of students who are feeling stuck in limbo.

The credibility of the examination system has also come under question, they said.

As Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan proceeded to take his oath, members of the Opposition raised "NEET, NEET" slogans.

(With inputs from agencies)

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