Bihar toppers scam: Former board chairman, wife arrested

Patna : Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) former chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife Usha Sinha were arrested on Monday in connection with the state Class 12 examination toppers scam, police said.

Lalkeshwar Prasad and Usha Sinha were arrested from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj, who heads the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Class 12 toppers scam, said.

He said the couple will be brought here on Monday and interrogated by a separate team of the SIT.

Meanwhile, Bihar Police recovered a country-made pistol and five live cartridges from the office of Amit Kumar alias Bachcha Rai, the alleged kingpin in the toppers scam.

He was arrested on June 11 after he surrendered to the police.

Said to be a supporter of the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Bachha Rai is the principal of the V.R. College in Bihar’s Vaishali district.

He is alleged to have been manipulating, in collusion with the BSEB, the merit list of Class 12 examinees in favour of students who paid him bribes.

“Police have lodged a case against Bachcha Rai under the Arms Act after recovery of the pistol and five live rounds. We will now again seek his custody,” Maharaj said.

After facing flak from the opposition over the toppers’ scam, leaders of Bihar’s ruling Grand Alliance of Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Rashtriya Janata Dal JD and Congress said the guilty will not be spared.

“Whoever has committed crime and corruption cannot escape the long hands of rule of law. The guilty will be punished,” state JD-U President Vashisht Narain Singh said, reacting to the arrest of the couple.

RJD leader and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav said he has full faith in Bihar Police who have already arrested Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife Usha Sinha.

Bihar state Congress President and Bihar’s Education Minister Ashok Choudhary said the accused will face justice.

Opposition leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, however, demanded that the toppers scam should be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Manjhi is former Bihar Chief Minister and belongs to the Hindustani Awam Morcha party.

Last week, a Patna civil court issued an arrest warrant against Lalkeshwar Prasad, who until recently headed the BSEB which conducts the Class 10 and 12 examinations in Bihar.

Lalkeshwar Prasad went underground after resigning from the board.

His wife Usha Sinha, who is former Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator of Bihar, was also missing since the time her name surfaced in the scam.

So far, 10 persons have been arrested in the case, the police said.

The scam surfaced after Aaj Tak TV channel showed a sting in which two Class 12 toppers could not answer even elementary questions about the subjects they ‘topped’ in.

The sting showed Rubi Rai, who topped the Class 12 exam in the Arts, saying: “Prodikal (read political) science is about cooking.”

It also showed Saurabh Shreshtha, a Science topper, saying: “Most reactive element in the periodic table is aluminium.”

Both Rubi Rai and Saurabh Shreshtha belonged to Bachha Rai’s V.R. College.

The sting suggested that education in Bihar continues to be a very dubious affair with the possibility that cheating and fraud continue on a large scale.