The Assam government on Saturday dismissed reports of a fresh question paper leak, claiming attempts were made to "disrupt the entire environment" after purported photographs of a geography paper went viral on social media.
Two instances of question paper leak of class 10 exams conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Assam, (SEBA) have come to light earlier this week, leading to the cancellation of both tests.
The purported first page of the geography question paper started doing rounds on social media, particularly WhatsApp, since around 11 a.m. on Saturday, leading to panic among the aspirants.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Education Minister Ranoj Pegu quickly dismissed the purported leak of geography paper, the exam for which is scheduled on Monday, maintaining it was an "attempt to disrupt the entire atmosphere".
However, Mr. Pegu claimed that the geography question paper of 2021 was edited and circulated on social media, leading to confusion among examinees as no class 10 board exam was held that year due to the raging COVID pandemic.
Denying any leak of geography question paper, the CM tweeted, "It appears that certain groups of people are attempting to disrupt the entire atmosphere by fabricating false leaks of the High School Leaving Certificate exam papers." "@assampolice will investigate the matter to ascertain the identities of the groups and take appropriate actions," he added.
Mr. Pegu also maintained that no question paper was leaked.
"The Geography Question Paper circulated in social media allegedly of leak is fake. SEBA authority has confirmed that it is fake. Instructed concerned officer to lodge FIR in Police station," he tweeted.
He also claimed before a television channel that a student from Nagaon has been identified for "editing an old question paper and circulating it".
"Many groups are spreading misinformation in a pre-planned manner since the commencement of class 10 exam this year. Social media doesn't conduct the exam, SEBA does. I urge the students not to be swayed by anything on social media unless the Board confirms it," Mr. Pegu said.
He also shared on Twitter two screenshots — one of the first page of the original geography question paper of 2021 and the other of the allegedly edited one circulated during the day with claims that it was of this year.
This led to confusion as class 10 examination was not held in 2021 and question papers were not given to students.
Both class 10 exams under SEBA and class 12 exams under Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (ASHEC) in 2021 were cancelled after being initially postponed due to the pandemic.
The results were announced based on an evaluation process recommended by two expert committees set up for the purpose.
The pass percentage in 2021 for Class 10 state board students zoomed to over 93 per cent from less than 65 per cent in the previous year.
Two tests were cancelled this week after instances of question paper leak came to light.
The general science exam, scheduled for March 13, was cancelled the night before, while the Modern Indian Language (MIL) and English papers, slated for Saturday, were declared cancelled by SEBA on Thursday night.
The first exam that was cancelled will now be held on March 30, while the other on April 1.
The CID is investigating the paper leak case and 31 people, including two masterminds, have already been arrested.