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NET exam paper leaked, sold on encrypted social media platforms, CBI sources reveal

Sources indicate that the role of coaching centres, which thousands of aspirants attend at significant cost to prepare for exams like NET, NEET, and the civil service entrance tests, is also under investigation. CBI officers may visit some of these centres in person.

NET exam paper leaked, sold on encrypted social media platforms, CBI sources reveal AJR
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First Published Jun 21, 2024, 12:32 PM IST

The UGC-NET exam paper, which was held on Tuesday, was leaked 48 hours in advance and sold on the dark web and encrypted social media platforms for Rs 6 lakh, news organisation NDTV reported citing sources from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In response, the Education Ministry voided the exam, citing input from a federal anti-cybercrime unit. This comes amid ongoing criticism over the handling of the NEET-UG test.

Currently, the source of the leak remains unidentified. The CBI will collaborate with the National Testing Agency (NTA), the central body responsible for conducting competitive exams, to uncover the origins of the breach.

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Sources indicate that the role of coaching centres, which thousands of aspirants attend at significant cost to prepare for exams like NET, NEET, and the civil service entrance tests, is also under investigation. CBI officers may visit some of these centres in person.

On Thursday, the CBI filed its first First Information Report (FIR) in the case, accusing unidentified individuals based on the ministry's complaint. The ministry had indicated that initial information suggested the integrity of the exam might have been compromised.

Further investigation revealed that authorities believe a large-scale corruption racket is responsible for the leaked papers. As a result, officials involved in the exam's conduct, including those who set the question papers, will be probed.

Those likely to be investigated include academics who prepared the papers, evaluators, and officials responsible for editing and checking the papers. It was noted that two to three sets of each question paper were prepared. The investigation will also scrutinize officials involved in printing the papers and those responsible for transporting them to examination centres, as they have access to all question papers.

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Following the cancellation of the exam, students across university campuses protested, claiming they had flagged paper leaks days before the exam, but no action was taken. Students at Lucknow University reported that at least one paper had been leaked and was available for just Rs 5,000, circulating via WhatsApp and Telegram groups from June 16.

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