Latur: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested a Zilla Parishad (ZP) school headmaster from Latur, Maharashtra, and detained a teacher after uncovering a racket involving at least four individuals who allegedly helped NEET students willing to pay money to pass the exam, news agency PTI quoted police as saying. 

Jalil Khan Umar Khan Pathan, the headmaster of a ZP school, was arrested late Sunday night, while another ZP school teacher, Sanjay Jadhav, was detained on Monday for questioning. Both teachers also run a private coaching center, according to police.

An FIR has been registered against Jadhav, Pathan, Iranna Mashnaji Kongalwar from Nanded, and a Delhi resident named Gangadhar under the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024.

On Monday, a local court remanded Pathan in police custody until July 2. “ATS officials received a tip-off about suspects running an illegal racket to help NEET students pass the exam in exchange for money,” stated a release from the office of the Latur district superintendent of police.

Following the tip-off, the ATS detained Jadhav and Pathan from Latur on Saturday night for questioning.

Suspicious information regarding the NEET 2024 exam was found on the mobile phone of one of the detained individuals, police said. The investigation has revealed references to monetary transactions between one of the accused, Kongalwar, and Delhi resident Gangadhar.

Prima facie, Kongalwar acted as a mediator, collecting admit cards of NEET aspirants from the two teachers, Pathan and Jadhav, an official stated.

“After cards are collected, an advance payment of Rs 50,000 used to be made to Gangadhar and the admit cards would be sent to him. The deal would be typically finalised at Rs 5 lakh (per student for facilitating paper leak),” the official said.

Konagalwar, posted at an ITI in Umarga in the Dharashiv district in Marathwada region, was in contact with Gangadhar.

The official said police teams have been fanned out to trace Kongalwar.

Jadhav appeared to be in a disturbed state of mind and possibly considering self-harm, the official said.

“He has been detained and questioning is on. As of now, he is not formally arrested,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pathan’s cupboard at Katpur, where he was posted as the headmaster, has been sealed and his duties have been reassigned to another teacher.

The investigation revealed that Pathan had been absent from school since June 20, yet he signed the duty muster on June 20 and 21.

Also Read: ED Arrests ‘Kingpin’ in 2022 JKSSB Sub-Inspector Exam Paper Leak Case

The block education officer has submitted a report to senior authorities, and a proposal to suspend Pathan is being considered.

According to police, Kongalwar used to travel to the ITI in Umarga from Latur. He had applied for leave on Monday and Tuesday.

The investigating officer, Bhagwat Funde, did not respond to repeated calls.

The ATS action followed the Centre’s decision to hand over the probe into the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG medical entrance exam to the CBI, in response to demands from protesting students across the country for a thorough investigation.

The CBI subsequently filed an FIR regarding the alleged irregularities in the exam conducted on May 5.

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