The chairperson of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) broke her silence on Thursday evening, three days after panic gripped Class X and XII students following news that maths and economics papers were leaked.
Speaking to media personnel, Karwal gave a carefully crafted statement saying the board will take a decision in favour of the students and the fairness of the exam system. "We have taken decision in favour of the students. We are working for their benefit. Dates for re-examination will be announced soon," Karwal said.
Karwal also reportedly met Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday morning defore the latter addressed the press.
Meanwhile, some angry parents and the Opposition demanded Karwal be dismissed and Javadekar be sacked.
The Congress released a press statement questioning Karwal's appointment and her conduct as the CBSE chairperson, especially as media reports said that the board was intimated of a leak on the eve of the exam.
"Complete apathy and deliberate negligence marred the leakage of CBSE papers. Since the Modi government came power, for almost two years, the post of the CBSE chairperson was kept vacant under the then HRD minister Smriti Irani," a Congress press release stated.
The party said RK Chaturvedi was appointed after continued criticism but his term was abruptly terminated in September 2017 after which Karwal was appointed.
"Anita Karwal, earlier chief election officer Gujarat, was appointed as the CBSE Chairperson on 8 September, 2017. Instead of taking extreme care in conducting the examinations, Ms Karwal was busy camping in Ahmedabad, promoting her book on mountaineering. Astonishingly, a news report also claims that the CBSE chairperson, Ms Karwal received a copy of the leaked mathematics paper a day before the exam was to be conducted," Congress press release alleged.
The board, which had been fending off allegations of a paper leak since days, finally accepted that the two papers were leaked on Tuesday and announced a retest. Media reports claimed that CBSE officials received a tip off on 23 March, two days before the economics exam. However, it is unclear why the board went ahead and allowed the exam to be held.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Javadekar termed the event as "unfortunate". He said that he understood the pain and anguish of both parents and students. He insisted that CBSE has earned a name for conducting exams well. He pointed out that when NEET was being implemented, CBSE was chosen as the body to helm it and did so even while being overloaded with work.
Javadekar further insisted that the authorities will not let anyone go scot-free. The police is on the case and he has faith in them, he added. He stated he has instituted an internal inquiry into the matter as well. He added that he will make all efforts to ensure that exams continue without any breach and will work to make the system foolproof.
The Delhi Police's crime branch is investigating the alleged leak after registering two separate cases. The police has, so far, interrogated 25 people, including 18 students and five tutors.
Special CP (crime branch) RP Upadhyay said: "We have no information that this leakage is pan-India but if such a thing emerges, we will send teams outside Delhi." He said the police is trying to find the origin of the leakage and how it was transmitted and the beneficiaries.
He said the person whose name was mentioned in the CBSE complaint to the police had also received the paper, which was circulated through WhatsApp. Meanwhile, students in Delhi took to the streets on Thursday to protest the CBSE's decision to hold re-examination of Class X mathematics and Class XII economics papers.
The Delhi unit of All India Democratic Students' Organisation demanded a high-level probe into the alleged paper leak case, and said it showed the board's "utter negligence" in conducting examinations fairly. The students' body staged a demonstration on Parliament Street and accused the Centre of making false claims in providing good governance.
"We demand high-level inquiry into the leaks and appeal to the students and parents to initiate a movement till all the demands are met," AIDSO vice-president Rahul Sarkar said.
A large number of students from various schools participated in the protest and raised slogans against CBSE and Ministry of Human Resource Development over the way they handled the examination process.
"It has shocked lakhs of students who had prepared day and night for exams. This system has failed to stop corrupt practices and few people including high officials who are busy in making money at the cost of future of students," Sarkar said.
Several students even threatened to boycott the retest and questioned why they should face the repercussions of government and departmental lapses.
Class 12 students of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Naraina, who also participated in the protest, told Firstpost they will boycott the exam. They asked why the exam was held if the CBSE had a fair idea about the paper leak around 9 am on the day of the exam and wondered what the government could do if 28 lakh students boycotted the re-examination.
After the board's decision to conduct a retest, nearly two million students will have to retake their examinations. More than 28 lakh candidates appeared for the Class X and XII examinations conducted by the CBSE from 5 March. A total of 16,38,428 candidates had registered for the Class X examination, while 11,86,306 candidates had registered for Class XII examination.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Mar 30, 2018 07:26:04 IST