Whether it's the prestigious CAT, CBSE All-India Pre-Medical Test or TYBCom exams, paper leaks have become the order of the day. The reason? There are big bucks involved (the case of Ranjit Singh, who allegedly masterminded the CAT and other leaks, is said to be of over Rs 100 crore a year).
Where do students get the money from? What prompts them to take such risks? What role do parents play? Sociologists, academicians and police strongly believe the only way to curb the menace is for "the demand from students to stop."
Incidentally, the modus operandi followed all over the country is the same, only the amount varies. For entrance exam papers, the amount paid ranges from Rs 5 lakh to 12 lakh. For the CAT leak, police say the four accused asked for Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh and were willing to take it in instalments.
For graduation exams, the amount is Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 (even though in the TYBcom leak, accused Prakash Nagariya, chief conductor of the exam at Nagrik Shikshan Sanstha's College of Commerce and Economics, Tardeo, said he earned just Rs 17,000).
The amount is usually collected by a group of 10 students, who pay around Rs 5,000 each. It's a myth that only rich students indulge in this, says a Juhu police officer. "In the TYBCom case, we found that many were from middle-class backgrounds."
While rich students pay from their pocket money, the others end up borrowing from friends. To retrieve part of the money, students try selling the paper to others at Rs 500 each or less. "Finally, there comes a point when a question paper may be bought at Rs 15," says Professor Narendra Bhambwani, secretary of Maharashtra Class Owners' Association.
In some colleges, there's also talk of first and second year degree papers being leaked every year, which goes unreported. Here, sometimes a peon has a role to play. The paper is available to the first recipient for as low as Rs 500 to Rs 600.
Often, money is exchanged only at the topmost level and after that what happens is "friendly gesture," explains the officer. "Students pass it on to friends for free." The whole process takes place in one night, "on phone, email or even a quick meeting," says a student.
There's another way too — students approach professors likely to set the papers for tuitions a month or two before the exam. The fees are high (a minimum of Rs 6,000 per subject per month), covering the so-called important questions, says a professor.