Godhra: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the owner of a private school in Godhra, Gujarat, on Sunday in connection with alleged malpractices during the NEET-UG exam conducted in May, as reported by news agency PTI. With the arrest of Dixit Patel, owner of Jay Jalaram School in Panchmahal district, the total number of arrests has risen to six, including five individuals previously arrested by Gujarat Police.

Jay Jalaram School was one of the designated centers where the NEET-UG exam was held on May 5.

Patel was arrested in the early hours of Sunday from his residence in Panchmahal district, said public prosecutor Rakesh Thakor.

“As the case has been handed over to the CBI by the Gujarat government, a CBI team will produce him (Dixit Patel) before a designated court in Ahmedabad to acquire his remand,” said Thakor.

Patel is the sixth person arrested in a case where the accused allegedly demanded Rs 10 lakh each from at least 27 candidates to help them clear the NEET-UG exam.

The other five individuals previously arrested by the Panchmahal police are Vadodara-based education consultant Parshuram Roy, Jay Jalaram School principal Purushottam Sharma, school teacher Tushar Bhatt, and alleged middlemen Vibhor Anand and Arif Vohra.

After taking over the investigation a week ago, the CBI sought custody of all the accused except Roy. On Saturday, the Godhra district court remanded Sharma, Bhatt, Anand, and Vohra to CBI custody until July 2.

A preliminary CBI investigation revealed that the accused had instructed candidates willing to use illegal means to obtain high scores in the NEET-UG to choose Jay Jalaram School as their exam center.

Notably, the previous year’s NEET exam at the same school had exposed a significant vulnerability where answer sheets were stored overnight, prompting the accused to plan tampering with Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets during this period, as reported by the CBI to the court.

According to Gujarat Police, the accused had allegedly instructed candidates not to attempt questions they didn’t know the answers to. Prima facie, Bhatt, a physics teacher, filled in the correct answers on the papers while they were still at the school premises post-exam.

On Saturday, the CBI raided seven locations in Gujarat, further intensifying their probe into the alleged NEET malpractices. Statements from six candidates who allegedly paid bribes were recorded last week, linking them to the accused.

A case was registered by Godhra Police on May 8 against Bhatt, Roy, and Vohra for attempting to manipulate the NEET-UG process by extorting Rs 10 lakh from each of the 27 candidates. Authorities tipped off about potential malpractice, and preemptively intervened at the school, preventing irregularities.

Bhatt, appointed as the exam’s deputy superintendent at the school center, was arrested before the test, and Rs 7 lakh in cash was seized from him.

The investigation showed that Roy had allegedly convinced at least 27 of his students that he could help them clear the exam for Rs 10 lakh. In a subsequent raid, cheques amounting to Rs 2.30 crore were discovered in Roy’s office.

Roy had allegedly instructed his students to choose the Godhra center so that Bhatt, Sharma, and others could assist them.

Of the 27 students who had either paid in advance or agreed to pay money to Roy and others, only three managed to clear the exam with a passing score, while the remaining 23 failed. Investigations continue as the CBI seeks to unravel the full extent of the malpractice network.

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