Guwahati/Dibrugarh, Mar 16 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday conceded that the question paper leak for Class 10 state board exam is a "failure" on the part of his government.
During an assembly session, Sarma also stated that the mastermind behind the scandal has been identified.
"The matric paper leak should not have happened. It reflects our failure. I accept it," he told the House.
The centre in-charge of a school is the main culprit, and three others teachers were also found involved in the matter, he said.
The government, in future, will take all possible steps to further strengthen the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA), which conducts the Class 10 matriculation examination in the state, Sarma said.
"The Assam Police has cracked the case within 48 hours. I request the accused to surrender before the police and share further details," he added The Assam Police will take the case to a logical conclusion and the strictest punishment will be given to the culprits as per the law, the chief minister said.
"I was silent for the last three days because I wanted the police to continue their investigation. Police have collected all physical and electronic evidence, and will now proceed to arrest them," Sarma pointed out.
When Congress MLA Bharat Chandra Narah wanted to know about the involvement of any SEBA official in the crime, Sarma said no such evidence has been found yet.
"We have pinpointed the prime accused. If after arrest he points fingers at others, then they will also be arrested. What we have come to know so far is that the leak happened in a particular place and then spread to four districts," he said.
The chief minister said the DGP will provide details of the investigation on Friday evening or Saturday.
When some opposition MLAs asked how the teachers got the question paper as it is kept in police stations, Sarma said: "Police stations provide a place for keeping the trunks, but the keys are only with the centre in charge”.
If the centre in-charge takes the question paper even a day before the exam, the police cannot keep a tab on it, he added.
The General Science question paper of the Class 10 matriculation exam conducted by the SEBA was leaked on Sunday night, and the exam scheduled on Monday was cancelled thereafter.
The cancelled examination will now be held on March 30.
Earlier during the day, Director General of the Assam Police, Gyanendra Pratap Singh, said that the probe has revealed that the General Science question paper, which was leaked, was sold for between Rs 100 and Rs 3,000.
Singh told reporters in Dibrugarh that the assistance of WhatsApp authorities has been sought to identify the origin of the leak of the question paper.
"The investigation has revealed that the question paper of the General Science examination was sold for anything between Rs 100 and Rs 3,000. We have found that somewhere it was sold for Rs 100, somewhere for Rs 200-300, and it went up to Rs 3,000," he added.
Expressing happiness over the pace of the probe, Singh said some more packets of the question paper from upper Assam districts will be sent to the CID headquarters for investigation.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is investigating the case, has so far apprehended 25 people, including children, from various parts of Assam, besides interrogating several others.
Singh stated that police detained three more persons in connection with the case on Wednesday night but they have not been arrested as of now.
"There were 4-5 layers in the question paper leaked through WhatsApp messages. Technical verification is being done with various telecom service providers. Most of the transactions were done through mobile wallets. The transaction details have been sought from the headquarters of the agencies in Mumbai," he added. PTI TR COR MM MM