Cheating in ISRO recruitment exam; VSSC cancels test, Kerala police launches full-fledged probe

Two men from Haryana were caught cheating on a recruitment test for technical staff at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, leading to the cancellation of the exam.
Cheating in ISRO recruitment exam; VSSC cancels test, Kerala police launches full-fledged probe

Thiruvananthapuram | Two persons from Haryana have been arrested for alleged impersonation and cheating in a recruitment test for technical staff vacancies at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), following which Kerala police on Monday launched a full-fledged probe, and VSSC cancelled the exam.

VSSC, the lead centre for the development of ISRO's launch vehicles, in a notification said that the written test to the posts of technician-B, draughtsman-B and radiographer-A that was held on August 20 at various centres in Thiruvananthapuram stands cancelled.

"The revised schedule for the test will be informed to all the candidates concerned, through the VSSC website in due course. Inconvenience caused is regretted," it said.

The move comes after Kerala police arrested two persons from two separate test centres who were caught red-handed when they were found cheating in the exam.

When police checked their identities, they did not match with the names of persons who had applied for the test; the two accused were impersonating the actual candidates.

Besides the two arrested persons, four other people from Haryana are in police custody in connection with the incident.

Following the arrests, the police had urged VSSC to cancel the test.

As more than 400 candidates from a single state -- Haryana -- had taken the test, there are suspicions over whether coaching centres may be involved. An investigating team will be sent to Haryana to collaborate with the state's police for the probe, police said earlier.

A case under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and various other provisions of the IPC and the Information Technology Act has been lodged against those arrested, police said.

"The two arrested persons will also be booked for impersonating the actual candidates," it said.

Earlier in the day, DCP Law and Order Ajith V told a TV channel that the four persons in custody were being questioned to find out whether they were part of the racket which may also involve some coaching centres in the northern state.

They have not been arrested yet, he said.

The two arrested accused had come by flight from Haryana to Kerala for the test, he said.

Giving details of how the police came to know about the cheating, the senior IPS officer said that on Sunday -- the day of the test -- the police received anonymous calls at the Special Branch office and the Museum

police station informing them that some manipulation would happen during the exam as some candidates have taken mobile phones into the exam centres.

"The information was passed on to the invigilators and, on verifying the same, they caught two persons -- from two centres -- red-handed," the officer said.

He said that when the names and addresses of the two were checked, it was found they were different from the candidates who had actually applied.

"So it was also a case of impersonation," Ajith said.

Regarding the technique used by the two, the officer said button cameras were used to scan the questions which were sent to someone elsewhere using the mobile phones. Thereafter, the answers were received by the two through small listening devices inside their ears, he said.

"All this equipment will be sent for forensic examination. We have also taken their call records. They came by flight to take the test," he further said.

As 469 candidates had applied for the test from Haryana and most of them turned up for it -- and have probably returned home -- a team would be sent to that state in connection with the investigation, Ajith said.

"We will get in touch with senior officers of Haryana police and the investigating team will go there as part of the probe," he said.

He said that as a large number of candidates had come from one particular place to Kerala for a test, and some manipulations were carried out, police will need to ascertain whether any coaching centres are also involved in the "racket".

"Therefore, a full fledged investigation has been launched," the DCP said.

The officer, meanwhile, did not blame the VSSC for the alleged loopholes in their system that led to the cheating.

Ajith said that while national recruiting agencies are more experienced at holding tests, when such individual agencies (like VSSC) do it, "there can be problems".

"I do not intend to blame anyone. I just hope they will rectify the problems and that in future they will adopt the protocols used by the more experienced agencies," he said.

The national-level recruitment test was held only in Kerala at 10 exam centres across the state, police added.

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