The YSRCP government has alleged that the leak of class 10 Telugu board exam question paper was done in Chittoor district on Narayana’s instruction, in order to circulate answers to students of Narayana Group of schools.

Former TDP minister Ponguru Narayana who was held for leak of class 10 SSC board exam question paperFormer TDP minister Ponguru Narayana: File Image/Facebook
news Controversy Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 19:00

Former minister with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government P Narayana was taken into custody by the Andhra Pradesh police on Tuesday, May 10, in connection with the class 10 question paper leak case. Chittoor district police detained Narayana from his residence at Kondapur in Hyderabad. He was shifted to Chittoor where a case was registered against him. Narayana is the chairman of the Narayana Group of Educational Institutions. Police have alleged that the leak of the Telugu exam question paper during class 10 board exams on April 27 was done on the instructions of Narayana. The Narayana Group is one of the largest private education corporations in the Telugu states which runs hundreds of schools and junior colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and also other parts of the country.

So far, the Andhra Pradesh police have arrested nearly 60 headmasters and teachers of various private and government schools in connection with various incidents of leaking of question papers. The exams were held from April 27 to May 6 after a gap of two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case in which Narayana, who was the former Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development, has been held is related to the leak of the Telugu language paper on the first day of the Class 10 board exams. 

On April 27, the Chittoor District Education Officer filed a complaint with the police, after finding that at around 11 am, the Telugu language question paper for the exam being held on that day was being circulated on WhatsApp groups. The exam was being held between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm. 

During the course of the investigation, police found that a teacher working at a government school in Chowtur village went to one of the exam centres in Chittoor on April 27, and took a photo of the question paper around 9.39 am with the collusion of another government teacher who was on duty as an invigilator. The teacher then shared the photo of the question paper with the principal of a private school (Krishnareddy Chaitanya School in Chandragiri) who forwarded it to an English teacher at another private school (NRI Academy, Tirupati), who then shared it with N Giridhar Reddy, Vice Principal of Narayana High School, Srinivasapuram, Tirupati, and the principals of a few other private schools in the city. 

On April 29, seven people involved in this chain of circulation of the question paper were arrested and sent to judicial custody. Based on further investigation, police have alleged that Narayana Group of Schools had resorted to leaking question papers of board exams as they were neglecting to teach language subjects and social studies while focusing on Maths and Science, so their students can get higher ranks in engineering and medical college entrance examinations like IIT-JEE and NEET. 

As most of their students were not equipped to perform well in language subjects and Social Studies, in order to ensure all their students pass the class 10 board exams, police have alleged that every year, former minister Narayana would instruct the deans of all Narayana schools in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to “manage” the government teachers deputed for invigilation duties of board exam centres in all districts, to get the question paper out of the centre a few minutes after the exam begins. 

According to the police, the deans of Narayana schools would bribe clerical staff at the education department and get the list of invigilators, bribe them as well to get the question papers from the exam centre. They would then get subject experts to quickly prepare the answers and circulate them to their students with the collusion of invigilators or other staff at the exam centres, police have alleged. 

The leak of the Telugu paper on April 27 happened as per the instruction of Narayana, according to the police, who said that the Vice-Principal Giridhar Reddy had prepared answers to some of the questions on that day and forwarded them to known teachers to be circulated further. Police have alleged that Giridhar Reddy also posted the question paper on a Whatsapp group of Chittoor press reporters, in order to defame the YSRCP government. 

The names of former minister Narayana and the dean of another Narayana school in Tirupati have also been added to the case, which has been booked under Section 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) and Section 5 (Prevention of leakage by person entrusted with examination work) read with 8, 10 of The Andhra Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Malpractices and Unfair Means) Act, 1997. 

The TDP has condemned Narayana's arrest, terming it a political conspiracy by the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government. TDP General Secretary Nara Lokesh alleged that Ponguru Narayana's arrest was made only to cover up the YSRCP government's inefficiency in the class 10 paper leak case. 

Meanwhile, strongly defending the arrest, Government Advisor (Public Affairs) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy alleged that the Narayana Group had been involved in the leaking of questions papers and malpractice, in order to remain ahead in the education field and achieve 100% passing results, for a long time. “This practice has allegedly been there for a long time. Under the TDP govt, Narayana became a minister and gained political clout. This malpractice was promoted under the TDP rule,” he said. 

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