Police exam recruitment scam: Invigilators at former BJP leader’s school under CID lens

The alleged role of six teachers who were invigilators at a private school operated by a former BJP functionary — it was among the centres for a written examination to recruit 545 police sub-inspectors for Karnataka Police in October 2021 — has come under close scrutiny of the state Criminal Investigation Department on account of extraordinary performances by a few candidates who took the exam at the centre.

Three teachers from the Jnana Jyothi English Medium School in Kalaburagi — the school is owned and operated by Divya Hagaragi, former president of the women’s unit of the BJP in Kalaburagi, and her husband Rajesh Hagaragi — have been arrested by the CID for their alleged role in what is now known as the PSI recruitment scam.

The bail pleas of the three teachers were rejected by a magistrate’s court Friday. Three more teachers from the school and a secretary of the school have approached court, seeking anticipatory bail. While Rajesh Hagaragi has been arrested, Divya Hagaragi too has sought anticipatory bail.

According to police, constable Rudragouda Patil, who is among 11 arrested so far in the case, is a central figure in the scam along with the officials of the Jnana Jyothi school.

Among others arrested is Hayyali Desai, a police gunman who reportedly secured a top rank in the written examination, and Chetana Nandagaon, a jail warden at Raichur. On Friday, the CID also arrested Afzalpur block Congress president, Mahantesh D Patil, in the case.

Eleven of nearly 500 candidates who wrote the police sub-inspector recruitment examination last year with the Jnana Jyoti school as their examination centre were chosen for recruitment to the police department earlier this year.

However, alleged irregularities in the recruitment process emerged after a few candidates who wrote the exam discovered that some of those chosen for recruitment from Kalburagi had answered as few as 21 questions in the objective portion of the test but ended up scoring as much as 100 marks in the objective portion of the test.

The post of police sub-inspectors are highly coveted among young serving policemen looking to obtain a higher ranking position without having to wait for promotions as well as rural youths who are freshers. As many as 54,051 out of a total of over 1.5 lakh applicants wrote the PSI exam across Karnataka.

A PSI post aspirant, who had failed to gain admission, obtained access to the copy of the original OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) answer sheet of another aspirant.

It was found that according to the copy of the original OMR sheet for the objective portion of the test — which the candidate was given at the exam centre for his own record after the test — he answered only 21 questions out of a total of 100, but obtained seventh rank in the exam. This resulted in many aspirants who did not make the cut petitioning the government.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, who initially told the Karnataka legislature in March that there was no scam in the police recruitment, ordered a CID probe earlier this month.

The CID FIR in the case states: “When the coded OMR sheet of the candidate… received at the police recruitment cell was compared with the OMR sheet that was provided for the candidate by members of the public it was found that… (candidate) had answered only 21 questions in the exam hall. The OMR sheet received at the police recruitment cell showed that he had answered all the 100 questions.”

Each question carried 1.5 marks and the total available marks in the objective section was 150 marks.

“This candidate… answered only 21 questions but he got a total of 120 marks in the test and got selected and this is a cause for suspicion. Prima facie it seems that the candidate… joined hands with others and filled answers for questions that had been left blank in the OMR sheet,’’ the CID said.

A case of forgery, fraud, cheating and criminal conspiracy against the candidate and unknown associates has been registered.

The CID has now called for all 545 candidates, who were chosen through the PSI exam to join the police force, to appear before it for interrogation along with copies of their OMR sheets. Police sources said that the scam at the moment seemed restricted to Jnana Jyothi school in Kalaburagi but a full picture would emerge after analysing the performance of all the 545 chosen candidates.

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