Students protest as India sets new exam dates after leak

Members of the National Students' Union of India protesting against Education Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi over the leak of high school exam papers. Hundreds of angry students have also taken to the streets, with many accusing the exam boa
Members of the National Students' Union of India protesting against Education Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi over the leak of high school exam papers. Hundreds of angry students have also taken to the streets, with many accusing the exam board of negligence. A probe into how the mathematics and economics papers were spread via WhatsApp is under way.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • Hundreds of angry students have taken to the streets of the Indian capital as police quizzed dozens of people over the leaking of high school examination papers that will force more than a million students to retake tests.

Mathematics and economics exam papers were distributed on the WhatsApp messaging app prior to the tests, forcing their cancellations and sparking fury among students and their parents.

On a second day of protests on Friday, hundreds of students in New Delhi chanted against the examination board, which they accused of negligence.

Police have questioned 45 people, including students and tutors, over the leak but no arrests have been announced.

Education secretary Anil Swarup said more than one million students will have to resit the economics exam on April 25.

The mathematics test may be held in July. This could be restricted to Delhi and neighbouring Haryana state, however, as an investigation found the leak was limited to these areas.

Around 1.6 million students nationwide had feared they would have to retake the maths exam.

"It is most unfortunate... that children have been made to suffer on account of someone else playing dirty tricks," Mr Swarup said.

Education Minister Prakash Javadekar said an investigation was under way into how the mathematics and economics papers were accessed and spread via WhatsApp before the exam.

"The criminals who did this won't be spared. I am sure the police will catch these people soon. Let me assure that we will further improve the system and make it foolproof," he told reporters last Thursday.

Cheating and exam fraud - such as paying bribes to buy test papers - is common in India.

More elaborate ruses have included relatives scaling the walls of examination centres to give crib sheets to students.

The Central Board of Secondary Education exams are crucial for students hoping to attend India's most prestigious universities.

Angry parents and students have demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which has faced criticism over digital security in recent weeks, especially over an identity card database that holds the biometric and personal details of more than a billion Indians.

India's ruling and opposition parties have also accused each other of mining and sharing the personal information of people who follow their social media accounts or use their apps, similar to the recent Facebook scandal over user data privacy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'Students protest as India sets new exam dates after leak'. Print Edition | Subscribe