Candidates who appeared for a Staff Selection Commission examination in February continued to protest in New Delhi for the fifth day on Saturday against the alleged leak of a question paper. The candidates have demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation look into the matter.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium metro station was closed on Saturday as a precautionary measure after students staged demonstrations outside the Staff Selection Commission’s office at CGO complex in New Delhi. Security was also heightened in the area.

The students have alleged that the toilet facility at the CGO complex has been blocked for them. Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal has asked the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to install temporary toilets in the area.

“They have closed the toilets and switched off the street lights,” a protestor told The Indian Express. “I think this is pressure tactic so that we get violent. But we have decided to protest silently till our demands are fulfilled.”

The chairman of the Staff Selection Commission, Ashim Khurana, said the Delhi Police was already investigating the matter and prima facie, there was no paper leak, the Hindustan Times reported. “If required the government may also ask the CBI to look into it,” he added. He had earlier claimed that the protests were “being actively instigated and sponsored” by two coaching institutes “with vested interests”.

The alleged paper leak

The students had started their agitation on February 27, just days after the Staff Selection Commission said it would conduct a re-test for candidates who took the Combined Graduate-Level Examination on February 21, due to “technical reasons”. The Staff Selection Commission made the announcement on February 24, and scheduled the re-examination on March 9.

Candidates took the examination between February 17 and February 22, but the February 21 test was “delayed” and “candidates faced inconveniences” because of “incomplete downloading of data”, the Staff Selection Commission had said.

Students have alleged “mass cheating” in the examination and said the question paper was leaked. They have also claimed blatant corruption at the Staff Selection Commission and in the examinations that it conducts. The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, the National Students’ Union of India, and the All India Students Association have joined the protests and issued statements in support.

‘Another Vyapam’

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said on Thursday that the “SSC scam” was “another Vyapam”, referring to the alleged irregularities in admission and recruitment examinations conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor requested Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances Jitendra Singh to look into the matter. “The number one requests of the candidates is, in fact, a detailed probe into the circumstances surrounding the examination,” Tharoor said in a letter to Singh on Thursday. “However, it appears that SSC is only willing to form an SIT probe, a cause of further anguish for these students, since it is likely that the members of the probe will be current employees of the SSC themselves, thereby opening the door for a potentially biased investigation.”