The West Bengal secondary education board’s life science question papers were ‘leaked’ on social media in the Farakka community block area of Bengal’s Murshidabad district on Wednesday afternoon despite an official suspension of mobile and broadband internet services in the area to stop such incidents.
Images of the papers were shared by a WhatsApp group barely half an hour after the exam began at noon. HT talked to members of the group, none of whom were students.
When HT contacted Kalyanmoy Ganguly, president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Examination, first said, “It is a fake news.”
When told that HT compared the “leaked” questions with those that students answered and found them to be exactly the same, he said, “In that case please inform the district officials. They should take action.”
This was the third ‘leak’ since the board’s Madhyamik exams began on February 18. The English and Bengali papers were ‘leaked’ earlier. Purported images of last year’s geography questions were also uploaded on social media, creating panic among students. Two students were caught photographing the mathematics question paper in North Dinajpur district. Five students were caught with mobile phones and barred from taking the tests. The exams will end on Thursday.
Around 12.45 pm on Wednesday a man named Ajmal Haque posted images of the life science question papers in a WhatsApp group named ‘Arjunpur Social Group’ in the Farakka area of Murshidabad. The images went viral in no time.
When HT contacted Haque he introduced himself as a nursery school teacher. He said, “One of my friends live in the Mothabari area of Kaliachak-II block in Malda. I got the images from him. I think the papers were leaked by students in Malda. I am not associated with the leak. I only shared them.”
A senior officer of district education department, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Farakka is among the eight community blocks in Murshidabad where internet services were suspended during the exam hours. I am surprised that people still got the papers through social media.”
A number of people in Farakka block said they did not have access to internet services provided by a particular company but services provided by two other popular companies were uninterrupted.
Farakka block development officer Rajarshi Chakraborty said, “All internet service providers were asked to shut down during the exams. I am not aware that all of them did not comply. Officially no one has lodged a complaint about the leak. Once we get a complaint, we will investigate.”
A total of 10,15,888 students are appearing for the exams this year. The number has gone down by 33,000 since 2019. Students and teachers were barred from carrying smartphones and smart-watches. The government suspended internet services for three and a half hours in about 50 community blocks in nine districts to stop leak of question papers.