The Punjab recruitment scam for the posts of SDOs and JEs is snowballing into a major political controversy with the Congress threatening to hold a demonstration at Badal village.The party alleges that Akali leaders were involved in the scam that the government was protecting them.The Vigilance Bureau claims that the investigation being conducted without any political interference. Officials said so far they have arrested six persons and were conducting raids to nab a Malout -based Akali leader and a Lucknow- based mastermind of the scam.PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh is hoping for a repeat of the 2002 Assembly elections when he had launched dharnas on similar recruitment scams against the Akali government. During his tenure, the Punjab Public Service Recruitment scam was exposed.However, the Akalis are calling the Congress dharnas a political stunt without much substance by claiming that it was CM Parkash Singh Badal who had ordered the vigilance inquiry into the scam after it was brought to his notice.Vigilance officials reveal that their investigations into the leakage of the November, 2015 exam paper for 682 posts of SDOs and JEs in various departments had already led to the exposure of a similar scam in recruitment of Inspectors for the PUNSUP.The exam for PUNSUP was held in March, 2015. One of the six accused was Amandeep Singh, a PUNSUP employee who revealed how the question papers for Inspectors in his department was leaked. Vigilance officials say it is a pan-India scam with the arrest of the Lucknow- based mastermind.It was in February this year that the Vigilance Bureau smelled a rat in the recruitment process. Officials reveal that a Malout- based man complained to the CM about the availibiluty of the recruitment exam paper for Rs 12 lakh. The vigilance bureau conducted a preliminary inquiry and concluded the complaint had merit.The officials who asked some of the first 20 toppers of the SDO recruitment exam with the state Local Bodies Department to write their statement in English, they were in for a shock. None of them could write a single sentence without errors.The toppers had already given identical answers and in a particular pattern to the multiple choice questions (with negative markings) raising suspicion.Panjab University had conducted the exam for the state government.However, it is still a mystery on who actually leaked the exam paper. The needle of suspicion points to PU staffers leaked the question paper to a select few. Of the six arrested three were candidates who had bought the paper.V Neerja, IG, Vigilance Bureau, said raids were on to nab the Lucknow -based man and others. She said the man was past master at leaking question papers across the country. She said some of the candidates who paid between Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakh later sold off the question paper at a premium to other candidates back in Punjab.The accused charged between Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakh per candidate for the paper. They allegedly restricted the number of such candidates to about 20-25 only thus making Rs 2 crore at least. The candidates were called to Lucknow a few days before the exam in November last year. The candidates were asked to cram the question paper so that no documentary proof of the scam could be traced.
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