Karnataka PSI exam scam: Kalaburagi school management instructed teachers to help candidates cheat, says CID probe

Teachers from a private school in Kalaburagi, who were designated as invigilators for an examination to recruit 545 police sub-inspectors (PSIs) for the Karnataka police department in October 2021, were instructed by the school management to help candidates cheat in the exam, according to details of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe that have been revealed in the courts so far.

In the course of bail hearings for Rajesh Hagaragi, president of the Jnana Jyothi School in Kalaburagi, and two teachers at the school, prosecutors informed a court in Kalaburagi that the school owners instructed the teachers who were invigilators to help designated candidates cheat in the exam.

As many as eight of 11 candidates – including three who finished in the top 10 for the region – who were selected to be PSIs after writing entrance tests at the school operated by Divya Hagaragi, a local BJP leader, have been arrested by the CID so far for their involvement in the exam scam.

Three teachers who were invigilators, the school headmaster, the principal and Divya and her husband Rajesh have been arrested so far in the Kalaburagi leg of investigations which has also led to the arrest of four agents who collected between Rs 30 lakh to Rs 80 lakh from candidates to help them cheat in the exam.

According to probe details presented in courts so far, one of the invigilators has stated that she was the supervisor for Room 4 (a), a hall where the exam was held, and was told by school officials to help candidates before the exam began.

The invigilator has said that she was told that a guest teacher at the school, Archana S, who was also an invigilator, would approach her with the answer keys during the exam. Around 10 minutes before the completion of the exam, the answer keys were provided and the invigilators allegedly filled in the answers that had been left blank by candidates on their optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets.

The services of some of the candidates who were part of the cheating network were also used at the exam centre to fill in the answers that had been left blank by candidates who paid bribes to succeed in the exam, the CID probe has found. The CID probe also revealed that the accused had ensured that CCTV cameras at the exam centre did not capture the cheating.

The bail pleas of 12 persons arrested in Kalaburagi, including the Hagaragi couple and several candidates accused of cheating in the exam, were rejected by courts in Kalaburagi this week.

The CID is also investigating performances at other centres in Karnataka where the police recruitment exam was held last year. The CID has named 22 candidates, including seven of the top 10 rankers, who appeared for the exam in seven centres in Bengaluru as accused in the Bengaluru leg of the probe.

The CID is also looking into the role of the Karnataka police recruitment cell and its officers in the scam. One of two police officers transferred from the recruitment cell was taken into custody by the CID on Thursday for alleged involvement in the scam.

The exam scam emerged when it was found that a candidate Veeresh N, who wrote the exam at the Jnana Jyothi School, obtained 121 marks in the recruitment exam despite answering questions only for 31.5 marks in an objective paper carrying a total of 150 marks. He obtained the seventh rank among 67 male candidates selected from the Kalyana Karnataka region in the police exam.

The CID has found that candidates were provided help in filling up their OMR sheets by invigilators after the answer keys were provided via Bluetooth devices.

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