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Explained: NEET UG row Bihar chapter and the missing link of a mysterious professor

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In Bihar, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Undergraduate (NEET UG) has recently become embroiled in controversy following allegations of paper leaks and the subsequent arrests of several individuals connected to the scandal. The unfolding saga has shed light on systemic vulnerabilities within the examination process, raising questions about integrity and oversight.

Allegations and Arrests
The NEET UG examination, held on May 5, witnessed widespread protests and allegations across Bihar and other states regarding leaked question papers. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), prompted by the Union Education Ministry, launched an investigation into the matter, signalling the gravity of the accusations.

According to reports from Times News Network (TNN) and Press Trust of India (PTI), the Bihar Police's Economic Offences Unit (EOU) has made significant headway in the case. They apprehended a total of nineteen individuals, including key suspects involved in the alleged paper leak. Among those arrested were Paramjit Singh alias Bittu, Baldev Kumar alias Chintu, Prashant Kumar alias Kaju, Ajit Kumar, Rajiv Kumar alias Karu, and Pinku Kumar from Deoghar, Jharkhand. These arrests followed revelations of an intricate network of fraudulence spanning multiple states.

READ ALSO: CBI Takes Over NEET-UG Paper Leak Probe from Bihar Police

"The gang had been plotting this for several months and it was a professor from Hazaribagh who had sent the question papers to Sanjeev using WhatsApp. Later, with the help of medical students from Patna and Ranchi, the paper was solved," a top official said in a TNN interaction. Once solved, it was sent with the answers to Chintu of Karai Parsurai. The investigating agency is now trying to locate the professor. Following Chintu's directions, Pintu of Hilsa, Nalanda, made photocopies of the question papers and gave them on May 5 to around 30 candidates staying at a ‘safe house’, now identified as the closed play school in Patna's Khemnichak locality.

Role of the Mysterious Professor
Central to the investigation is the identity and role of a mysterious professor allegedly involved in transmitting the NEET UG question papers. Initial inquiries have pointed towards Sanjiv Mukhiya, also known as Sanjeev 'Mukhiya', as a potential mastermind behind the paper leak racket. Reports suggest that Mukhiya, a former technical assistant at Noorsarai Horticulture College in Nalanda, orchestrated the dissemination of exam papers through WhatsApp. He purportedly received the papers from a professor in Hazaribagh and coordinated with accomplices in Patna and Ranchi for their distribution.

Who is Sanjeev Mukhiya?
Sanjeev Mukhiya, also known as Luta, is a technical assistant at Noorsarai Horticulture College in Nalanda and is suspected to be the mastermind behind the NEET-UG paper leak. Mukhiya's involvement in the paper leak racket came to light through investigations by the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) and the Patna police, which revealed his and his son Dr. Shiv Kumar alias Bittu's roles in the scam. A raid conducted at their residence in the Nagarnausa block of Nalanda district did not find Mukhiya. Notably, his son is currently under arrest in connection with the alleged BPSC TRE 3.0 question paper leak. Before establishing his own criminal network, Mukhiya was associated with Bihar's notorious education mafia, Ranjit Don. His wife, Mamta Devi, is active in politics and contested the Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 on a Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJNSP) ticket from Harnaut seat, though she ended up as the first runner-up.

READ ALSO: Centre’s anti paper leak law which came into effect amidst NEET and NET scam; check offences and punishments

Sanjeev Mukhiya and his son Bittu have a history of involvement in examination frauds. Mukhiya was arrested last year as a conspirator in the TRE paper leak case. Bittu, along with his father, was previously involved in leaking the NEET question paper in 2017 from Patrakar Nagar in Patna. Their criminal activities also connect them to Dr. Shubham Mandal, the mastermind behind the recent UP constable exam paper leak. Investigations revealed that Bittu's gang, originating from Balwa Shahpur in the Nagarnausa police station area of Nalanda district, was responsible for leaking the NEET paper and played a significant role in the incident.

Sikandar Yadvendu: Another prominent name in the NEET UG row
Yadavendu, allegedly responsible for distributing the exam's question papers illegally, is among the prime accused in the NEET-UG paper leak case. He was arrested on May 5. This junior engineer at the Danapur Municipal Committee is a 56-year-old from a farmer's family. He used to work as a small contractor until 2012. He holds a diploma in engineering and has worked as a contractor for over a decade. Yadavendu lives in a rented flat in Rupaspur, Danapur, Patna.

Yadvendu's family owns around eight bighas of land in Samastipur, Bihar. After finishing class 10 in the 1980s, he moved to Ranchi for further studies and earned a diploma. In 2012, during the NDA's rule in Bihar, he got a job as a junior engineer in the state's water resources department. In 2016, he was implicated in a Rs 2.92 crore LED scam in Rohtas and was later released on bail. In 2021, he used his connections to transfer to the urban development and housing department, securing a position in Danapur Municipal Council, where he approved layouts for new apartment projects.
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