Exam paper leak: 40 officers, other staff of PU dept suspended

Bengaluru: Cracking the whip, Karnataka government today suspended 40 officers and other staff in the Pre-University Department after the Chemistry paper of Class XII was leaked for the second time in 10 days, leading to cancellation of the exam.

As the issue rocked the Assembly, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar announced the government’s decision in the House, amidst protest by BJP members who demanded his resignation.

The re-examination will now be held on April 12, the minister said, as the second leak led to protests by angry parents and teachers in Bengaluru and elsewhere in the state.

He said to oversee conduct of the exam, a three-member observer’s team, comprising current Transport Commissioner Ramegowda, who earlier served as Pre-University Commissioner, would be constituted.

Ratnakar said the DGP CID has been requested to conduct speedy investigation into the leak of both March 21 exam and today’s re-examination question paper and find out the source behind it and punish those responsible.

The examination on March 21 was cancelled and re-examination scheduled for today after students alerted the authorities about the question paper leak. Government had then ordered the CID investigation.

As the House met for the day, BJP members raised the issue and demanded Education Minister’s resignation. Hitting out at the government and the minister, Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said, “Is this government alive or dead?” and accused the government of being “irresponsible” and playing with the lives of young students.

“Are you aware of the pain and worry the students and their parents are undergoing?” Shettar said, adding “there is no other go; Kimmane Ratnakar has to take responsibility and resign.” CID has to be given a free hand to investigate and strict action should be taken against those responsible, he said. Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa also expressed displeasure about the paper leak.

JDS Leader Y S V Datta expressed surprise over the leak for the second time, that too when the CID was probing earlier paper leak. He said second PUC is a crucial year in a student’s life as it is the basis on which they choose their professional courses.

Other BJP leaders like Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri and Suresh Kumar also held the PU department responsible and demanded Ratnakar’s resignation. In his reply, Ratnakar said about 1,75,000 students appeared for the Chemistry paper and “as we got to know about the question paper leak, we decided to cancel the exam this morning.”

He said the CID has been asked to probe the matter and the Principal Secretary of the Education Department told to take action against those officials responsible.

Not happy with the Minister’s reply, BJP MLA’s trooped into the Well of the House and demanded Ratnakar’s resignation, following which the Speaker adjourned the House and called for a meeting of floor leaders. As the House resumed, BJP members demanded that the Chief Minister give a statement and Ratnakar resign.

Amidst sloganeering, the Speaker directed the Minister to make his statement.After Ratnakar’s statement, the Speaker asked the Ministers and Heads of Committees to lay the papers and reports mentioned against their name. Even as BJP members continued with their demand that the minister’s resignation has to be announced, the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.

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