The reported leak of the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) question paper in August last year continues to haunt the state even as the government agreed to the 13-point demands of the Pan Arunachal Joint Steering Committee (PAJSC), fighting the paper leak issue for the past six months.
The paper leak allegedly happened ahead of a written examination for recruitment to the post of Assistant Engineer (Civil) conducted by the APPSC on August 26-27 last year.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), following the state government's request took up the case in October last year. The agency registered a case against a coaching institute personnel in Itanagar and unknown officials of the APPSC based on a complaint.
On August 29 last year, Gyamar Padanga, a candidate for the examination, lodged an FIR at the Itanagar police station, complaining that the question papers for the APPSC were leaked.
The agitating organisations however, were not satisfied with the progress of the CBI probe and subsequent actions.
After the shut down and two-day violent agitation of the PAJSC on February 17-18, the state government ahead of President Droupadi Murmu's two day visit (February 20-21), on February 18 agreed to the 13-point demands of the PAJSC leading to the suspension of the stir.
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The agitation hit normal life for two days on February 17-18, with business establishments, markets, banks, educational institutions, government and private offices remaining closed and vehicles off the roads.
Clashes between the agitators and the security forces caused injuries to ten people on both sides.
Thousands of protestors blocked the vital National Highway-415 by burning tyres and also damaged a few two-wheelers and other vehicles.
Apprehending a deterioration in the law and order situation, the state government had temporarily suspended internet services in the capital region, comprising Itanagar, Naharlagun, Nirjuli and Banderdewa.
The government during the agitation had also postponed the state board exams for classes 5, 7 and 11, in all schools of the capital region.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu accompanied by Home Minister Bamang Felix, Water Resource Development Minister Mama Natung, and senior officials held a meeting with the representatives of PAJSC, All Nyishi Students Union, Nari Shakti and activist Sol Dodum and it was agreed to resolve most of the 13 point demands.
The state government officials said that the former Chairman, Secretary, members and officials of the APPSC from 2014 to 2022 are already under the purview of the investigation.
The Gauhati High Court following the request of the state government has agreed to designate district and sessions court Yupia as a special fast-track court to take up the APPSC paper leak cases.
The state government also agreed that whistleblower Gyamar Padang would be recognised befittingly for his contribution in the exam paper leak case.
The PAJSC demands that all exams conducted by the APPSC of which question papers were allegedly leaked should be cancelled, while seeking immediate arrest of the former Commission chairman, secretary, members and other officers, a court-monitored and Enforcement Directorate probe into the paper leak and dismissal of the state government officials involved with the commission.
It also demanded the recruitment examinations be conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, and not the APPSC.
It sought making the report of the three-member committee on the Assistant Engineer (Civil) paper leak case public and compensation of Rs 5 lakh for all candidates.
The CBI probing the APPSC exam paper leak case has recently filed a chargesheet against eight accused before a Special CBI court in Arunachal Pradesh.
The CBI earlier conducted searches at different places in Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh as part of its investigation.
The CBI officials during the searches recovered incriminating documents, articles including counterfeit stamps of the executive magistrate of Arunachal Pradesh, executive engineer, State Bank of India, along with hard discs and pen drives, among others.
The Chairman of the APPSC, Nipo Nabam, had resigned in October last year "owning moral responsibility for the omissions and commissions of the officer of the commission" who was responsible for ensuring secrecy and preventing leakage of question papers.
Many organisations, including the Anti-Corruption Foundation, have demanded action against the former APPSC Chairman, Secretary and other officials for the reported leak of the question paper.
More than 40 people, mostly government officials and employees, including APPSC deputy secretary-cum-deputy controller of examination, have been arrested by the state police for their alleged involvement in the paper leak case.
The case was initially investigated by the Itanagar Police and later transferred to the special investigation cell (SIC) of the State Vigilance Department before being handed over to the CBI.
On Friday, the body of APPSC Under-Secretary Tumi Gangkak, who was earlier suspended from service after the alleged leak of the question paper in August last year, was found under mysterious circumstances on the outskirts of the state capital.
Gangkak, who served the Commission as the Assistant Controller of Examinations, was found hanging from a tree near the Itanagar Zoo road tri-junction.
A former member of the Union Public Service Commission said that the government should sincerely implement all the demands by taking the people of the state into confidence and ensure the transparent functioning of the APPSC.
"If the irregularities and inefficient functioning are not plugged with a strong hand, unfair activities would increase and go out of control and affect all sectors,," the retired UPSC member said, refusing to be named.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)
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