In a first, the West Bengal government suspended internet services for three and a half hours in about 50 community blocks in nine districts to stop leak of question papers for the state secondary board’s class 10 Madhyamik examination that started on Tuesday.
Providers of both mobile and broadband internet services have been asked to suspend operations from 11.30 am to 3 pm on all days when exams will be held. The exams will end on February 27.
Education department officials who did not want to be identified said districts where the action has been taken are Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Birbhum, Alipurduar and West Burdwan.
A total of 10,15,888 students are appearing for the exams this year. The number has gone down by 33,000 since 2019, Kalyanmoy Ganguly, president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Examination, told the media. “Students will not be allowed to carry mobile phones and smart-watches. Even teachers are not allowed to use smartphones and smart watches during the exams,” he said.
Significantly, neither the state government nor Ganguly made any official statement on the suspension of internet services. “I have no comments to make,” said Ganguly.
HT, however, accessed a written order signed by a district magistrate in south Bengal on February 17.
The step was taken in view of the leak of question papers in several districts last year. The malpractice was discovered when images of English, Bengali, history and geography question papers surfaced on social media on consecutive days.
The criminal investigation department (CID) of the state police took up the investigation after Ganguly lodged a complaint. Several people including two students were arrested.