AHMED ALI FAYYAZ
Srinagar, Oct 1 (IANS): With more and more skeletons tumbling out of the closet in the investigation over irregularities in the selection of over 1200 Sub Inspectors for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the CBI has found that almost all recruitments of non-gazetted services in the last 5 years were based on a fraudulent process.
The investigating agency has discovered that a Bengaluru-based agency had managed get the recruitment board’s controller of examinations transferred after he declined a bribe offer of Rs 50 lakhs.
Sources privy to the investigation revealed to India Narrative that the Bengaluru-based agency Merit Trac managed its contract with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir through fraudulent means. According to these sources, the agency had been black-listed by several States but senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (SSB) not only hired it for all non-gazetted staff selections but also managed back-to-back extensions of its services. The successful bidder was ignored and Merit Trac, which was second in the bidding, was selected to conduct the written examinations for selection of the staff for all non-gazetted services.
Even the selection of SIs, which the J&K Police used to conduct independently, was taken away and assigned to the Bengaluru-based agency.
Immediately after the agency published the selection list on the basis of �merit’, it was widely noticed that a large number of the candidates had been selected from Jammu and Akhnoor areas. It was also noticed that multiple children of certain families, with same parentage and residential address, had been picked up for the recruitment.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha then ordered a departmental inquiry which established the allegations of irregularities. On its recommendation, the selection list was cancelled and a fresh process of selection ordered. A CBI investigation was also ordered into the recruitment scam.
Sources said that some senior bureaucrats and political leaders could be called for sustained interrogation to find out how a former Controller of Examinations had been transferred after he refused to accept the huge bribe. It was being investigated how the tainted agency had been hired. According to these sources, the CBI was almost convinced that almost all the selections made by the agency in the last 4-5 years had been compromised.
However, rather than opening a larger Pandora’s box, the agency would focus only on the selection of SIs for the J&K Police, Account Assistants for Finance Department and Junior Engineers for Jal Shakti Department for which the exams had been held in March 2022. All the three selection lists have been cancelled by the Government.
The CBI sleuths, according to these sources, have also learned that the SSB officials in league with the Bengaluru-based agency and an inter-State network of agents had not only leaked the question papers but had also replaced OMR sheets of their clients against huge amounts of money. At least 28 of such OMR sheets with fake signatures of invigilators have been identified. The entire selection of Accounts Assistants for Panchayats has been found compromised. Besides, a deal of Rs 4 crore had been struck for leakage of the question papers for selection of Foresters.
Three senior ranking officers of the SSB have been found involved in replacing the OMR sheets. It appeared that OMR sheets were written by the candidates afresh with correct answers after the exams and submitted to the SSB under a nexus in exchange for cash. One member and three officers of the SSB are likely to be called for questioning in a week’s time.
Significantly, the racketeers were not only active in Jammu but they had also leaked a question paper of Haryana with the help of a CRPF constable then posted in Gangyal.
Eight persons including a Government teacher, two constables of J&K Police, one constable of IRP and one former CRPF jawan have so far been arrested by the CBI in connection with the scam. Three of them have been sent to jail while five others are still in the CBI custody facing interrogation.