WARANGAL: Telangana BJP president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar was arrested by police in the early hours of Wednesday after he was named the prime accused by the city police in a case of malpractice after a question paper of Standard 10 (SSC) board exam surfaced on groups of an instant messaging app. Sanjay Kumar, a Lok Sabha MP from Karimnagar constituency, was picked up by a team of police from his residence in Karimnagar city and was initially put under preventive arrest, triggering protests by his party workers.
He was subsequently arrested, and then produced in a local court in the evening in Warangal, which remanded him to judicial custody till April 19 along with three others. The paper of Standard 10 (SSC) board exam in Telangana found its way into an instant messaging platform for the second day on Tuesday after a 16-year old boy took a photo of the paper from a student who appeared for the exam in Hanumakonda district and shared it with that student’s brother while the exam was going on, police said.
The paper was then posted in a group of the instant messaging app and subsequently shared in other groups by one of the accused, who had also sent a copy to Sanjay Kumar, police added. According to Warangal Police Commissioner A V Ranganath, Sanjay Kumar had sought to defame the government by conspiring to create fear among the students and their parents during the ongoing SSC public examination, as the blame for the question paper leak would fall on the Telangana administration
“There was WhatsApp conversation between Sanjay and the second accused (a former journalist of a TV channel). There were also WhatsApp calls between them. When we asked Sanjay, he said his phone is not with him. If we examine his phone, some more information will come out,” the Police Commissioner told reporters at a press conference in Warangal.
“We feel that they wanted to create a sense of insecurity among students. There is no political motive in filing cases. This (the leakage of papers) was done under the direction of Bandi Sanjay,” he added. The official further said the leaked question paper found its way into the phones of several BJP leaders, including former minister and legislator Etela Rajender.
Ranganath said the arrest of Sanjay Kumar has been intimated to the Lok Sabha Speaker’s office as per procedure, and added that the police had the power to arrest a person under section 41 of CrPC without issuing a notice first under certain circumstances. After his preventive arrest, Sanjay Kumar tweeted: ?Fear is real in BRS.! First they stop me from conducting press meet & now arrest me late in night. My only mistake is to Question BRS govt on its wrongdoings. Do not stop questioning BRS even if I am jailed. Jai Sri Ram! Bharat Mata ki Jai! Jai Telangana.”
He even posted the videos of his preventive arrest along with the tweet. After images of an SSC Hindi question paper surfaced on the social media platform, police took up the investigation and apprehended the 16-year-old boy and arrested two others on Tuesday, who include a former journalist of a TV channel and a lab assistant who had allegedly circulated the question paper on the app. Subsequently, Sanjay Kumar was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday along with another accused, a driver.
A total of 10 people have been named as accused in the case and five are absconding.
Police, in the remand report, claimed that the technical evidence gained by analysing call details of the phones of all the accused and the chats of the accused on the app proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons were involved in a conspiracy with regard to the “leaking” and copying of the question papers on April 4.
“This is a pre-planned and criminal conspiracy. Malpractices (have been committed) in SSC public examination with an intention to create rumours and provoke breach of peace of the ongoing public examination in Telangana state wherein Bandi Sanjay Kumar hatched a plan with the help of two other accused to leak out the ongoing SSC papers by taking a photo of a question paper in the cell phone,” police alleged in the remand report.
The police accused Sanjay Kumar of giving direction to the second accused to exploit the situation of the leak of the Telugu question paper which happened on April 3 (Monday), by stating that if it also happens on April 4, then they could circulate the same on social media and defame the state government.
The BJP state chief sought to portray it as the failure of the government in preventing the question paper leak, the police claimed. The development comes days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state to inaugurate various projects.
Sanjay Kumar, who was initially shifted to Bommalaramaram police station under Rachakonda Police Commissionerate limits in Hyderabad was subsequently taken by the police to Warangal. Earlier, a large number of BJP workers gathered near Bommalaramaram police station to protest Kumar’s arrest and also raised slogans against Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. They demanded that Sanjay Kumar be released immediately.
BJP MLA M Raghunandan Rao and several party leaders and workers were prevented from going there. Party national general secretary and Telangana in-charge Tarun Chugh said the BJP state president’s arrest was unconstitutional and illegal and it would prove to be “the last nail in the coffin of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s repressive regime”.
Four government staff were suspended on Monday in Vikarabad district of Telangana after a stand-by invigilator at a government school allegedly took a photo of the Telugu question paper of SSC board exams and shared it with another teacher on an instant messaging app while the test was going on.