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NEET probe: CBI takes up 5 cases

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the investigation of five new cases of alleged malpractices in the NEET-UG medical entrance exam. The cases originate from Gujarat, Bihar, and Rajasthan, while another case from Maharashtra’s Latur is also likely to be taken up by the agency.

On Monday, CBI teams from Delhi reached Bihar and Gujarat to continue the probe into these irregularities. The Opposition, particularly the Congress, has criticised the Centre for refusing to remove NTA chairman P.K. Joshi, who is also involved in the appointment of VCs and directors of prestigious educational institutions nationwide.

In a related development, the Rajasthan High Court has issued notices to the National Testing Agency and the Centre, asking them to respond to petitions seeking the cancellation of the NEET-UG exam due to alleged irregularities. The court has scheduled a hearing for July 10, just two days after the Supreme Court is set to hear similar petitions.

The CBI, which registered its FIR following a reference from the Union education ministry, is now investigating a total of six cases of alleged NEET-UG malpractices.

In Bihar, CBI officers collected evidence from the Economic Offences Wing (EOU) of the Bihar Police in Patna. The EOU, which had been investigating the matter until the Centre intervened, has already arrested 18 individuals in connection with the case. The evidence includes pieces of a burnt question paper, mobile phones, SIM cards, laptops, post-dated cheques, and reference question papers from the National Testing Agency (NTA). All those arrested are currently in judicial custody in Patna.

“A DA case may be registered against the arrested accused Sikander Prasad Yadvendu, a junior engineer in Danapur Town Council, as he reportedly acquired huge assets that are disproportionate to his known sources of income,” the officer said. Yadvendu, originally from Samastipur, has been identified as the prime suspect in the case, he said.

In Gujarat, a CBI team reached Godhra in Panchmahal district to investigate alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG exam. A case registered by Godhra police on May 8 details accusations of criminal conspiracy, cheating, and criminal breach of trust involving 27 candidates. The Gujarat home department recently transferred NEET-UG paper leak cases to the CBI, enabling the central agency to take over the probe. So far, the Gujarat police have arrested five individuals, including the principal and a teacher from a Godhra school designated as a NEET-UG exam centre. The racket was unearthed at a Godhra school designated as a centre for the NEET-UG, held on May 5 for entrance to medical colleges, after the district collector received a tip-off that some persons were involved in malpractice, as per the FIR registered on May 9.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has registered a case against four individuals linked to a racket that allegedly assisted NEET students in cheating the exam. This action follows student protests and demands for an investigation into the exam’s irregularities, prompting the Centre to hand over the probe to the CBI. The CBI filed its first FIR on Sunday after a reference from the Union education ministry to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged malpractices in the exam held on May 5.

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