Thursday July 25, 2024

Cheating in MDCAT in KP: Chief secretary warns of strict action against perpetrators

By Mushtaq Yusufzai
September 13, 2023

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education and Evaluation Testing Agency (ETEA) held 213 candidates for using unfair means in the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) held on Sunday.

According to officials of intelligence departments, ETEA helped them trace and identify the main culprits and ringleader of the scam.“Multiple layers were established for body search to block the entry of electronic devices. The staff was trained in effective body search who used metal detectors that played a key role in finding the cheaters,” Mohammad Imtiaz Khan, ETEA Executive Director, told The News.

He said walkthrough gates were installed and additional staff was deployed for supervising the performance of the invigilators in the examination centres.The executive director ETEA confirmed that 213 candidates were found using unfair means in the entrance test.

The ETEA had received faulty data from the Khyber Medical University (KMU) which was analysed and corrected.The vigilant staff in ETEA identified some doubtful cases where nine candidates had given the same contact number which made them suspicious.

Further investigation found them guilty and arrangements were made in advance to arrest them before the start of the test.More than 400 candidates, who were above 22 years old, were noted as suspicious and arrangements were made for keeping them under observation.

The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and KMU had no such mechanism to identify such irregularities.One of the intelligence agencies shared their findings with secretary Higher Education Department at 11pm on September 9, a night before the MDCAT, saying that they had learnt that certain elements had adopted novel forms of cheating for the upcoming entrance test.

“A certain type of Bluetooth-enabled pocket-held device connected to a micro earpiece will be used by students for solving the paper. Rs1.5 million per candidate have reportedly been charged by the handlers of these devices for cheating in the exam. In view of the above, test conducting authorities may be sensitised to remain vigilant and confiscate any such devices from the candidates,” the intelligence agency had mentioned in its report.

Last year around 4,000 candidates from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had appeared in the MDCAT from a university in Islamabad, apparently due to high standards set by the ETEA for the entrance exam in KP.

The intelligence agencies in their reports had stated that children of high ranking civil and police officials were also caught using unfair methods in the entrance and the reports had been shared with relevant authorities.

“Some black sheep in the government had a skeleton in the cupboard as they had arranged Bluetooth devices for their own children. When their children were caught, they tried to divert the attention from the real culprits and started making hue and cry that paper had been leaked,” a government official told The News while quoting the report as saying.

He said the chief secretary should ask these people to produce evidence about paper leaks as they had claimed.Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Nadim Aslam Chaudhry told The News that he would not spare those involved in the scam.

“I have ordered an inquiry into this matter as I have heard children of senior government officials were involved in using unfair practices. I will not spare anyone involved in this scam,” the chief secretary vowed.

According to police and officials of the intelligence departments, the ringleader of the scam has been identified and traced. “The ringleader of this entire scam is a well-connected individual. He belongs to Karak district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and holds years of experience in such dirty dealings,” one of the officials told The News.

According to them, the same person had allegedly been using NTS as his personal property and had fixed different prices for various government positions. They said the ringleader was initially employed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission as computer operator, where he was found in some illegal activities and his contract was terminated and removed from service.

“He then got a job of assistant director in the Federal Public Service Commission in Islamabad. There he used to serve influential people and developed good relations with them and they would rescue him when in trouble,” the official said.

It was in fact ETEA that caught the ringleader when they found a person appeared in the test for another person in Malakand district. “The ETEA team suspected when they found out how a person from Karak district would attend a test in such a faraway district. After investigation, they found that the person appeared for another candidate and he was paid Rs60,000 for the task,” according to the official.

They said he was brought from Karak to Peshawar where he stayed in a hotel and then went to Malakand district. ETEA then pursued the case and got the ringleader arrested and sent him to jail for three months.

In the meantime, ETEA pleaded the case that convinced the Federal Public Service Commission to terminate him. “The judge refused him bail and he changed his case to another judge and got bail. Now he has applied for the position of assistant director in the Federal Investigation Agency on the basis of his bail,” the official said.

According to ETEA officials, the same ringleader had applied for the MDCAT in various places and their aim was to leak questions from the examination halls through Bluetooth.

“ETEA was well aware of these tactics and had made proper preparations almost a month ago to hold the entrance in a fair and secure environment. It was due to the standard operating procedures that prevented all unfair means in the test,” Mohammad Imtiaz Khan said.