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48 Lakh Aspirants For 67,000 Jobs: How Uttar Pradesh Conducted the Constable Recruitment Exam

Fake candidates, paper leak allegations and more – the examination was conducted amid allegations of irregularities and questions were being raised over its fairness by aspirants as well as opposition parties.
Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty.

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The much awaited written examination for recruiting police constables in Uttar Pradesh — almost 48 lakh aspirants are vying for less than 67,000 jobs — concluded on February 18 amid allegations of irregularities and questions were being raised over its fairness by aspirants as well as opposition parties.

Given the large number of aspirants competing for a relatively low-scale job, which was conducted in four shifts over two days across 75 districts, the opposition used the occasion to raise the issue of rampant unemployment among youth in the state which is ruled by the Adityanath-led BJP government.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty. Photo: Intifada P. Basheer and Azam Abbas

The Uttar Pradesh Police Constable Recruitment Examination 2023 was conducted in almost 2,400 centres across the state. From February 15-18, the state police, including the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force or STF (the wing that tackles organised crime) said they arrested or detained at least 244 persons on charges of cheating in the examination, impersonating candidates for money, defrauding candidates by promising them success and duping aspirants with the promise of leaking the paper to them.

Reacting to demands of fresh examination and protests by aspirants across the state, the UPPRPB has asked them to send evidence regarding alleged paper leak by February 23 evening. Further action would be taken on the basis of examination of the witnesses and evidence they produce, the UPPRPB said.

The question paper leak allegations 

The Congress and the Samajwadi Party as well as users on Twitter (formerly X) alleged, on the basis of some unverified screenshots that were widely shared on social media, that the question paper had been leaked. The allegations were also trending on X with a demand for a probe and fresh examinations.

The state body conducting the examination, Uttar Pradesh Police Recruitment and Promotion Board (UPPRPB), first dismissed allegations of a paper leak. Preliminary probe found out that some “anti-social elements” had spread the rumour of a paper leak on social media after tampering with a document through the edit option on the telegram application. The board and the state police were investigating the source of these claims, the UPPRPB said.

However, as the allegations kept coming in, the UPPRPB late on February 18 after the examinations were concluded, said that it would “thoroughly verify” the “unverified news” that was trending on social media.

Among those arrested by the police were an Indian Navy deserter Monu Gurjar (from Shamli) who had allegedly tried to manipulate the exam; Anjani Kumar, a station master at the Singhiyaghat railway station in neighbouring Bihar, who allegedly sat in the exam as a “solver” in place of a candidate from Gorakhpur; an exam invigilator in Basti who was allegedly caught tutoring candidates and a former pradhan in Ghazipur district, who was part of a gang of manipulators.

The fake candidates 

In many cases, the “solvers” – the persons impersonating the candidates for money – hailed from Bihar. In Pratapgarh, police said they arrested a “fake candidate” while in Gonda a “solver” Kundan Kumar Chaudhary from Bihar, who was to take the exam for two separate candidates on February 17 and 18, was arrested on the first day of the exam along with the two aspirants.

SP Gonda Vinit Jaiswal said the solver had been paid Rs 6 lakh by the candidates. In Bhadohi, a person was arrested for taking the exam with fake certificates concealing his real age and name. In Azamgarh, seven persons were arrested for trying to manipulate the exams and the district police chief said they plan to seize their property under the stringent Gangsters Act as they were acting “like a gang”.

In Mathura, a person was arrested for sitting in the exam in place of his relative while another was nabbed for appearing in the exam with a fake certificate of another category. In Hathras, UP STF arrested a “gang of three members” for allegedly running a racket of impersonating aspirants and recovered 82 admit cards from them. Two persons were arrested in Chandauli and Mirzapur for allegedly seeking Rs 10 lakh payment and receiving Rs 50,000 as advance from each candidate for promising them a leaked copy of the question paper. An assistant teacher was arrested in Aligarh for promising to leak the paper in exchange for Rs 12-15 lakh from each candidate.

The police also arrested people for allegedly spreading rumours that the paper had been leaked.

The opposition’s viewpoint 

The examination stood out not just for the allegations of irregularities but also its massive scale, as opposition leaders including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav shared photos of railway station platform brimming with aspirants waiting for the trains to their exam centres. To provide a sense of the scale, while 48 lakh candidates appeared for the exam, the Uttar Pradesh police force, perhaps the largest in the country and manning an estimated population of over 23 crore, has a personnel strength of only 3.15 lakh.

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On Sunday, Akhilesh Yadav shared a photo of the large crowds of aspirants fighting for 60,000 odd jobs, and dared the BJP to release the data for the number of jobs its government had provided in the northern state.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav speaking to media persons. Photo: X/@yadavakhilesh

“In the Lok Sabha election, unemployed youth run their bulldozer over the BJP’s lies and find a decisive solution,” said Yadav. He added that the BJP government was testing the patience of the jobless youth.

Yadav also shared a news item which alleged that a complaint had been lodged by a retired IPS officer alleging that the question paper was leaked. After the government claimed such allegations were mere rumours, Yadav on Monday asked if all was well, as the government claims, would the state provide jobs to all the candidates who score 100% marks even if it overshoot the number of vacancies advertised.

The exams affected around 2.5 crore people, if each aspirant’s family had five members, and it is these people who will teach the BJP a lesson in the election, Yadav said.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who is currently touring Uttar Pradesh as part of his Nyaya Yatra, also alleged that the paper may have been reportedly leaked. Gandhi, while referring to the long list of competitive examinations overshadowed by allegations of cheating and paper leak in the state said such incidents crush the parents of the aspirants who send them to Varanasi and Prayagraj for coaching.

“Lakhs of students are paying the price of this criminal negligence of the government by ruining their careers. The double engine government is a double whammy on the dreams of the youth,” said Gandhi. He also pointed out that the recruitment exam was being held after much delay.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) MLA Persann Kumar Chaudhary wrote to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister demanding that a judicial probe be conducted into the alleged irregularities in the exam and claimed that aspirants from his district Shamli have informed him that the question paper was leaked on the Telegram app. He also demanded that fresh examination should be held for recruitment.

Earlier in February, Chief Minister Adityanath informed the state Assembly that the BJP government had recruited 1.55 lakh police personnel, including 22,670 women ever since it came to power. The last main recruitment was conducted in 2019 when examinations to fill 49,568 posts of civil and armed police personnel were held.

Opposition demands

Opposition party MLAs have demanded that the examination be held afresh and the alleged reports of paper leak and irregularities be probed.

At least three SP MLAs, Atul Pradhan, Ragini Sonker and Pinki Yadav, and one RLD MLA Persann Kumar wrote to Chief Minister Adityanath saying that aspirants from their constituency had informed them that the question paper had been leaked on mobile phone and social media applications much before the scheduled examination.

Prasann Kumar demanded that a judicial probe be conducted into the alleged irregularities in the exam and claimed that aspirants from his district Shamli has informed him the question paper had already been leaked on Telegram app.

SP MLA Atul Pradhan on Wednesday, February 21, even staged a sit-in outside the district magistrate office in Meerut and submitted a memorandum to the administration demanding fresh examination.

“We demand that, keeping in mind the future of lakhs of youth, the examination should be cancelled and conducted afresh,” said Pradhan.

The allegations around the police constable examination are the latest in a long list of controversies surrounding competitive examinations held in the state, resulting in a falling credibility of the state in conducting these examinations in a free and fair manner.

Just last week, the police launched an investigation into the allegations of paper leak in the RO (review officer) and ARO (assistant review officer) examinations for a combined 411 posts.

In 2021, during the first tenure of the Adityanath government, the state cancelled the TET (Teacher Eligibility Test) examination after the police found that that the question paper had been leaked..

Almost 20 lakh candidates were appearing for the examination.

With rampant unemployment and underemployment a major reality of the youth in the state, and across the country, the Opposition hopes to corner the government on the issue ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

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