Internet access for 25 million people shut off during exam in cheating crackdown

Up to 25 million people in India were left without the internet on Sunday as part of a major crackdown on exam cheats.

For years the country has faced students going to extreme measures to gain an advantage on answering professional test papers.

One of the most coveted exams is the Teacher Eligibility Test (REET) which took place in Rajasthan over the weekend.

Mobile phone web access was switched off by the authorities while broadband remained running in just ten regions of Rajasthan.

Passing the exam allows trainee teachers to land a prized job as primary and secondary teachers in government-run schools which offer attractive employee benefits.

The drastic measures designed to prevent 1.6 million students from answering the exam fraudulently, impacted a total of 25 million people in the state on Sunday.

Popular cheating methods in India have recently ranged from professionals sitting exams for students to gangs stealing or illegally procuring exam papers and then selling them, Mail Online reports.

Previous combat measures aside from an internet blackout include new CCTV cameras, candidates having to put on a new face mask, and even students wearing cardboard boxes on their heads.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot revealed that even the production of the exam papers was carefully monitored.

Everything from the printing, transporting, and distribution of the tests was recorded on camera, and workers were threatened with the sack if they tried leaking it.

Sensationally, despite all the heightened security around Sundays' test, at least ten people were arrested for using Bluetooth devices concealed in their flip-flops.

The new method adopted by cheats hoped to receive a phone call which was wirelessly connected to tiny receivers hidden in their ears.

Outside accomplices were readied to call them and dictate the correct answers to the exams, according to Priti Chandra, a police official in the western city of Bikaner.

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The prospective teachers however were busted before even entering the exam hall as they appeared to be acting suspiciously and a search found the devices in their footwear.

Chandra told AFP: "We were aware of the possibility of cheating but we thought it would be a question paper leak or someone would use the internet, which is why it was restricted in many cities.

"But this was a totally new modus operandi. (They) are getting so tech-savvy.

"In one case we caught a student after the exam and had to take him to a doctor to identify and remove the Bluetooth device from his ear."

Investigations revealed that at least 25 students bought the high-tech flip-flops from a gang for 600,000 rupees (£6,000) per pair.

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