In Retrospect

Tale of Two Papers

Spiralling technology and access to remote corners has been both a boon and a bane. The recently uncovered cheating nexus, which cast a shadow of doubt on the CBSE’s efficacy, has displayed yet another flipside of shrewd malpractice, discusses Abhay Singh.

From android application to remote access tools, the accused who ran the cheating racket or were involved in some way in facilitating cheating have found loopholes in technology which they are using to the best of their benefit. Earlier, cheating was more manual – a proxy student would write the exam in place of the real candidate ensuring that the candidate clears the exam – but now, it's all technology.

The Delhi Police had registered two cases in connection with the CBSE paper leaks. The first case relating to the leak of the Economics paper was lodged on March 27 and the other pertaining to the Mathematics paper was lodged on March 28, following a complaint by the regional director of CBSE.
The Economics paper leak was exposed after an envelope containing four images of a hand-written copy of the question paper was delivered to the CBSE Headquarters in Delhi on the evening March 26, the day of the exam; whereas, CBSE had received an e-mail a day before the Class X Mathematics exam, which was held on 28 March, informing them about the paper leak.
The first arrest came on April 2, when Crime Branch of Delhi Police SIT arrested three people for their alleged involvement in the CBSE Class XII Economics paper leak case. One of them is an Economics tutor who runs a coaching centre in outer Delhi's Bawana, the police said. The two others teach Physics and Maths at a convent school in the same neighbourhood in north-west Delhi.
A major breakthrough came when the police team arrested three men from Una in Himachal Pradesh, which included the centre superintendent of a school in Una. During further investigation, it was revealed that it was the same group that had leaked the Mathematics paper.
Police claimed that accused Rakesh, centre superintendent, wanted to be the principal of a school with the help of his relative. He leaked both the Economics and Maths leak paper to, in turn, assist his relative who he believed had a reasonable influence.
"Both the paper were handwritten by one boy and girl, and after clicking the photos of the paper he destroyed the evidence," said an investigator adding that he, then, passed them on to one of his female relative in Firozpur, Punjab via WhatsApp. No money trail has been caught during the investigation. The accused were sure that no one will be able to arrest them as they had deleted all the WhatsApp messages and also destroyed the handwritten question papers.
The WhatsApp Trail
For Crime Branch, Delhi Police, it was a challenge to trace the WhatsApp chain messages which were forwarded from one phone to another. During the investigation, the police team busted two modules.
The first was made from outer Delhi after the police team searched almost 10 WhatsApp groups and reached one student who claimed that he received his question paper through his tuition teacher, Tauqeer, who had assured him of good marks in the examination.
The next arrest came after the investigators trailed more than 35 WhatsApp groups which had around 40 to 60 members. The team of more than 30 members, consisting of five ACPs and six inspectors, visited more than 12 districts of different states and questioned more than 150 students. Finally, they landed a clue in Firozpur, where they questioned a woman which ultimately led to the arrest of the accused. The police had to track down 20 recipients of WhatsApp chain messages before they zeroed in on the main suspects. The SIT team led by Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Alok Kumar comprising of DCPs Dr G Ram Gopal Naik, and Dr Joy Tirkey, Crime Branch made the arrest in the case.
SSC Breakthrough
The gang of four persons begun operations in 2011, when they helped candidates in manual cheating during exams; but, with time, the gang found loopholes in online examinations and helped candidates cheat in the SSC online exam by using remote access tool software like Team Viewer. But, their luck ran out when the Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh Police in a joint operation with the Delhi Police arrested them from North Delhi's Timarpur.
It was found that they provided internet connectivity to the computer, downloaded window sharing application and shared the password and helped the applicants cheat. The accused persons would gain access to the computer. The solver would then answer all the questions using the software.
Corrupt Centres
DSP (UP STF) Brijesh Singh told Millennium Post that during the investigation, they found that the accused were in contact with more than 10 examination centres in Delhi and Jaipur. Recently, Crime Branch, Delhi Police arrested four more men involved in the racket. The investigation in the case revealed that there were more than 20 candidates who benefited from the SSC cheating racket. One of the accused named Dured Ali, who owns an examination lab in Badarpur area, charged 20,000 rupees for conducting cheating in the centre.
Targeting Villagers
The investigation in the SSC cheating racket, which was busted by the Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh Police and Delhi Police from North Delhi's Timarpur, revealed that the accused had formed a chain and was targeting the residents of their own village. Another accused named Ajay Kumar had also brought people from his hometown for the exam. "Sonu brought 40-43 candidates whereas Ajay brought 20-23 candidates," the team observed.
Money Matters
DSP (UP STF) Brijesh Singh stated that the SSC cheating racket it was revealed that the prospective candidates were lured and charged amounts to the tune of Rs 5-10 Lakhs. In the first module of the CBSE leak case which was busted, the accused sold papers to students for Rs 2500 to Rs 3000 each and distributed the share among two teachers who would give him access to the question papers before the examination.
Misusing Technology
A senior police officer from UP STF told Millennium Post that remote access tools have been a part of the computer for a long time but now it is being used by criminals to conduct cheating. With time, the criminals have also changed their modus operandi. Earlier, the use of Bluetooth in the exam for cheating was common as the culprit inserted the small device in his ear and read the questions from the exam paper to another person who was near him. His associate would then dictate the answers. The range of the Bluetooth was hardly 100 meters. Many such practices of cheating have been busted over time.
With a change in technology, the accused found loopholes and started using remote access tools for cheating. "Sitting 2000 kilometers away and gaining access to ID and password of the candidate's computer, the accused easily solved all the questions and no one could arrest them with the help of tools," said the police officer adding that unlike the Bluetooth, the remote access tools have no range, it directly connects through the internet.
Investigation Unfolds
Busting the cheating rackets has not been an easy task. According to investigators, to reach the exact source was onerous. In some cases, the investigation was done on the candidate's marks. A list was prepared and the names of candidates who got more than 90 were on the list. The computer in which they were sitting during the examination was taken for probe. "During the investigation, we found that the computers had remote access tools and suspicion arose because there was no need for such tools on the computer. Through further grilling of some people, a confession was given and an arrest was consequently made," said the police officer.
The investigator further added that in online cheating cases, it is a chain which works to help the candidate who had paid their money to pass the examination. "In these cases, after the first arrest is made, the investigation continues and we track the movement of the other accused online. It was quite a long process, after several months of hard work, few more arrest were made," said the police officer.
Delhi Police Data
In the last two years, the city has witnessed numerous cheating cases, with more than 9,000 such cases being registered with the Delhi Police. Of these, the cops have solved 1,237 cases. The data accessed by Millennium Post showed that as many as 5,396 cheating cases were reported in 2016 and 3,643 cases were reported in 2017, till October 31.

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