Bihar Staff Selection Commission chairman lands in jail

PATNA: Bihar Staff Selection Commission (BSSC) chairman Sudhir Kumar, a 1987-batch IAS officer, was arrested on Friday for alleged involvement in the job scam that had rocked the state earlier this month. He was later taken to Beur Central Jail, on Patna’s outskirts.

The bureaucrat’s brother, Awadesh Kumar, and sister’s son, Ashish Kumar, along with Awadhesh’s wife, Manju Devi, were also arrested. Awadhesh is a geography professor at the premier Patna Women’s College.

“We have also taken into custody Ashish’s friend Sajjad Ahmed and BSSC’s IT manager Niti Pratap Singh,” said Patna SSP Manu Maharaaj, who is heading a special investigation team (SIT) formed at chief minister Nitish Kumar’s behest to probe the leak of questions for the four-phase examinations for 13,120 Intermediate-level clerical vacancies.

The examinations, scheduled for January-February this year, were scrapped after the questions started doing the rounds on WhatsApp.

“We have evidence to suggest the IAS official made available two sets of question papers and answer keys to his five kin. They were among the 18.5 lakh job aspirants who had applied for the examinations,” Maharaaj told newsmen.

Sources said police had procured a warrant of arrest from a Patna court against the bureaucrat on Thursday after he misled them about the question setter and the location of the printing press where the questions were printed.

During two rounds of interrogation earlier, Sudhir told the SIT the questions had been set by an IIT-Delhi professor. “Our inquiries revealed the professor didn’t set questions,” a police officer said, adding Sudhir, after the second round of questioning, went on three days’ leave from Monday but did not resume duty on Thursday.

According to sources, Ashish wrote the exam in the first phase on January 29. He told interrogators he had answered 135 of the 150 questions correctly and deliberately answered 15 questions incorrectly.

Ashish accepted before reporters that the questions and answer keys had been provided to him and others in Hazaribagh by his maternal uncle, Sudhir.

Incidentally, the Bihar IAS Officers’ Association has alleged Sudhir was arrested from his in-laws’ home in Hazaribagh, a charge the SIT has denied. “Kumar’s involvement has been corroborated by the arrested conspirators, including BSSC secretary Parmeshwar Ram,” another police officer said, adding that call detail records also point to Sudhir’s involvement in the scam.

With the arrest of Sudhir, the number of arrests in the case has gone up to 34, including a government clerk and schoolteacher, a railway loco pilot, and several coaching institute proprietors.