The arrest of senior Karnataka police officer Amrit Paul has caused the department severe embarrassment and also put the spotlight on how deep the corruption in the PSI recruitment scam has gone.
While the political parties have taken up the issue to target each other, the question of the future of the candidates who were not involved in the “devious process” is being raised.
‘Foolproof’ system tampered with
News18 spoke to former senior police officers who served as DGP of Karnataka and even as ADGP (recruitment and training). They expressed shock and disappointment over the police sub-inspector (PSI) recruitment scam in a system that was once considered not just “foolproof” but also the best in the country.
Speaking exclusively to News18.com, former Karnataka director general of police Dr DV Guruprasad poured his heart out on how he felt about the controversy.
Guruprasad, who was himself in charge of recruitment and training as the ADGP between 2006 and 2009, said he is “hurt, shocked and dismayed”.
“My predecessor Ajai Kumar Singh had put together a solid and well-oiled system for the recruitment exam. When I took over, we added technology to make it tamper-proof and ensure the whole examination process was transparent, “ the former DGP said.
Explaining how they used video recording, CCTV monitoring, and use of guards and strongrooms to keep the answer sheets tamper-proof, Guruprasad also added that even states like Uttar Pradesh had reached out to him to replicate their recruitment exam process.
“The paper sheets were kept in the strongroom and only the ADGP or a senior official accompanied by the ADGP was allowed inside. The strongroom keys were always with me and even if we went into the strongroom, it was recorded in a register and the CCTV camera,” he said. “In this case where Amrit Paul has been named, it seems like somebody else had access and used it to tamper with the OMR sheets. They have used Bluetooth devices to write the answers,” he said.
Ironically, the technology that was used to make the exam tamper-proof was used to tamper with the system, said the former top cop.
“We also used to print two or three different question papers and send them for printing to two different places. For example, once we sent a set to be printed in Manipal and the other to Hyderabad. Another time, it was sent to Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram. Till 24 hours before the paper, nobody except the ADGP recruitment knew which paper was being sent for the examination. Our system was tamper-proof, but what has happened is very sad and disappointing,” he said.
A very efficient system had been developed for the recruitment process, said Aam Aadmi Party member and former Bengaluru police commissioner Bhaskar Rao to News18.com. “Now a senior official Amrit Paul has been arrested, it is a first in this country. We don’t know what he has been involved in before, but now we can see the blatant way in which this has been done. Strictest punishment should be awarded to those who are accused,” he said.
Amrit Paul is just the front end and he has even used his masters to benefit from this, said Rao. “Now his masters have cast him aside. Even if he names people, nobody can prove it,” he added.
Bhaskar Rao also recalled how he had heard rumours when he was the Bengaluru police commissioner that he would be replaced by Amrit Paul.
“How could a junior ADGP like him become the police commissioner? Clearly, there was some nexus at play,” he said.
Another former Karnataka DGP, ST Ramesh, also expressed his anguish and disappointment.
“The general public and candidates will wonder when a seniormost officer is arrested, there will obviously be suspicion on his involvement…How will people get justice or trust the recruitment process if such a scam occurs? This question will dog the minds of the people and the stakeholders and will definitely shatter the confidence of the people,” he told News18.com.
“My suggestion is that instead of the OMR being scanned in Bengaluru, it can be done at the examination venue itself and this can reduce the occurrence of such kind of tampering,” added Guruprasad.
Opposition wants state home minister to go
The opposition parties in Karnataka have upped the ante, seeking the resignation of state home minister Araga Jnanendra following the arrest of Amrit Paul.
Leader of opposition in the assembly and former chief minister Siddaramaiah has made a direct allegation that the Jnanendra knew of the corrupt practices and has urged chief minister Basavaraj Bommai to sack him.
“It is very clear that the skeletons from the closet are falling out one by one. In the PSI recruitment scam, it is not officials who are to be blamed but home minister Araga Jnanendra who is responsible for it. The arrest of ADGP Amrit Paul is proof of how the top level knew,” the Congress leader said.