PESHAWAR: Taking notice of allegations about paper leak of the entrance test for the medical and dental colleges, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has ordered the cybercrime branch of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to hold an inquiry into the matter.
The government withheld results of the entrance test till the inquiry committee submitted its report within three days.
The Educational Testing and Evaluation Agency (ETEA) held the entrance test 2018 on Sunday with logistics provided by the Khyber Medical University (KMU) Peshawar for admissions to public and private sector medical and dental colleges of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The test was simultaneously held at seven different centres, including Islamia Collegiate School ground Peshawar, Haripur University Haripur, Grassy Ground Saidu Sharif in Swat, Gomal Medical College in Dera Ismail Khan, Abdul Wali Khan University, Garden Campus Mardan, Cadet College Kohat and Malakand University in Chakdara, Lower Dir.
The KMU this year established three more centres in Mardan, Kohat and Lower Dir to reduce burden on Peshawar and better facilitate local applicants in their nearest centres.
Soon after the entrance test was held, some people alleged that the paper had been leaked before the test.
Some of them posted pictures of the paper on the social media and alleged that people paid a handsome amount for getting it.
The test was postponed earlier a month ago due to rains in Mardan. It would cause mental stress to the students and their parents if the paper was now cancelled on the basis of allegations.
According to KMU, 38,062 candidates including 14,602 females appeared in the test this year.
The ETEA was supposed to announce the results of the test within 24 hours, but Chief Minister Mahmood Khan stopped it till the inquiry was conducted.
In many areas the students and their parents did not know about the alleged paper leak and were anxiously waiting for the results.
The government officials told The News that as it was a serious issue the chief minister decided to thoroughly investigate the allegations.
According to sources, four students were found in Mardan and two each in Kohat and Malakand centres with pictures of the paper bank sent to other people from their cellphones.
Carrying cellphones to the examination centres was not allowed. The staff on duty confiscated their phones and the students were handed over to the police.
According to government officials, there is no proper law and punishment for such type of an offence and thus the students were freed later.
According to sources, pictures of the paper went viral after 3pm on social media on Sunday. Almost three hours later the test was concluded.
The officials said KMU’s job was arranging the logistics of the test which was done in a satisfactory manner while the Higher Education Department (HED) had to do supervision of the whole exercise.
According to sources, the provincial government wanted a fair and free probe into the allegations and, therefore, it was decided in principle not to include any official from the province in the inquiry.
“I am sure it is a concocted story as we did some investigations today on our own level but could not get any solid proof that substantiate the allegations of paper leak,” a senior government official told The News on condition of anonymity.
The KP government had initially referred the inquiry to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), but its officials said they would not be able to submit report within three days. The government then approached IB.
According to officials, IB has agreed its cybercrime branch would conduct the inquiry and submit report in three days.
Present and former government officials told The News there were limited chances the paper would have been leaked. They termed the latest propaganda as an attempt by ‘organised mafia’ trying to make the entrance test process controversial.
“There is only circumstantial evidence which cannot be proved in the court. The government is quite serious in fair trial as it is an issue of integrity of the system,” said the official.
He said an almost similar scandal was unearthed in 2005 when a paper was leaked prior to the entrance test.
“At that time, around 1,700 students obtained more than 700 marks in the entrance test. Though it is too early to predict the outcome as a reputed institution is conducting the inquiry, I do not think the paper was leaked this time as only two students managed to get above 700 marks,” he argued.
There were allegations that the paper was leaked on August 12 and some claimed it was made available to resourceful people on August 17.
However, government officials did not agree with these reports, saying around 5,000 students would have gained more than 700 marks had the paper been leaked before the entrance test.
A senior physician on condition of anonymity claimed that his close relatives had uploaded the same paper on August 12 in Peshawar.
He said his relatives were preparing for entrance test in an academy in Peshawar that provided them the paper.
His daughter also claimed that it was the same paper that her cousins had discussed with her a few days ago.
The ETEA is an autonomous body run by Board of Governors (BoG) with the governor as its chairman.
Some powerful elements want it to be dissolved. They want students with the highest marks to be given admission in the colleges instead of conducting the entrance test.
As per PMDC criteria, students need to get 50 percent marks in the entrance test and 40 percent in their intermediate examination for admission in medical colleges.
The integrity and secrecy of entry test paper is exclusively ETEA’s domain, mandate and responsibility.
Interestingly, owners of academies allegedly use candidates for taking pictures of the paper to be used later during their tuition classes.
Last year five to six students were caught with cell phones at the Peshawar centre alone. As the only punishment for this offense is cancellation of paper, the offenders aren’t scared of the consequences.