Gujarat cops unearth IELTS exam racket; coaching class owner, education firm CEO among 45 arrested.

An official said on Monday that after a month-long investigation, police in Gujarat’s Mehsana district allegedly discovered a racket wherein unqualified students received assistance to achieve high scores on an international English proficiency test in order to travel to Canada on student visas and then attempt to enter the US illegally. In connection with the alleged scam involving the International English Language Testing System, the Mehsana police have filed charges against 45 people and detained three of them, including a student from Surat (IELTS). For non-native English speakers, the IELTS is an internationally standardized exam of English language competency. A passing score is required for admission to reputable universities in many different countries.

A coaching class owner, the CEO of a private test management and educational services organisation, and nearly two dozen pupils were among those who had reservations, he claimed. Six young people from Gujarat who were detained by US border agents in March during an unsuccessful attempt to enter the country from Canada have been linked to the alleged racket after they were unable to respond in English to questions posed by a US judge during a court hearing. Two of those six pupils came from Gandhinagar and Patan, while the other four came from various locations within the Mehsana district. Dhruv Patel, Neel Patel, Urvish Patel, and Savan Patel were identified as the four kids from the Mehsana area.

Inspector Bhavesh Rathod of the Mehsana police’s Special Operations Group (SOG), who was in charge of the investigation, claimed that the alleged ringleader, Amit Chaudhary, had conspired with some employees of Ahmedabad-based testing agency Planet EDU to help 21 students score 6 to 7 bands on the IELTS exam by taking between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 20 lakh from each of them. After concluding his month-long investigation, Rathod filed an FIR (first information report) with the Mehsana “B” division police station on Sunday. It named 45 people, including Chaudhary, and accused them of cheating (in violation of Indian Penal Code section 420), criminal breach of trust (406), forgery (465) and criminal conspiracy (120-b). Other key persons named in the FIR included coaching class owner Gokul Menon, Chief Executive of Planet EDU Sanjeev Sehgal, examination manager Rajesh Tahiliani, Menon’s accomplice Fernandes Sawant, some test supervisors and 21 students who had paid money to Chaudhary to get high IELTS scores.

“Gokul Menon, his accomplice Fernandes Sawant, and a student from Surat named Sandip Patel have already been taken into custody. The 22 ineligible students had paid Chaudhary and others between Rs 10 and Rs 20 lakh apiece to assist them in achieving high IELTS scores so they could quickly gain admission to colleges abroad despite their limited English proficiency “Rathod stated. The four Mehsana students who were apprehended by US officials in March were among the 21 pupils in question. The inspector stated that Mehsana city police would conduct a more thorough investigation into the incident. As per the FIR, Chaudhary and others had arranged for proxy students, who were proficient in English, to give written exams for the actual candidates with the help of some test day supervisors (TDS) and writing examiners appointed by the testing agency Planet EDU.

According to the police paperwork, the test was carried out in September of last year at a hotel in the south Gujarati town of Navsari. Additionally, the SOG investigation found that English-speaking exams were also falsified. The speaking proficiency test was administered around 10 p.m. after the actual test had ended, according to the FIR, which also claimed that speaking test examiner Renu Suri had allegedly permitted proxy candidates to present in place of real pupils. The investigation found that Fernandes had taken the English-speaking test in Neel Patel’s place. “The other three Mehsana students aren’t even grads, save from Savan Patel, who has a BA. Since they all had studied in Gujarati medium throughout, they contacted Chaudhary to get high IELTS scores so that they can go to Canada on student visas and then enter the US using their connections there,” said Rathod.

In response to a request from American authorities, the Mehsana police SOG launched its investigation. In March, six Gujarati students were rescued from a capsized boat in the Saint Regis river in Akwesasne, New York, not far from the Canadian border. “When they were presented in front of a court in the US, they refused to respond to the judge’s queries in English. The court had to take the services of a Hindi translator. The pupils’ IELTS scores, which range from 6.5 to 7, perplexed the court, according to Rathod. Later, citing a news report on the incident, the criminal fraud investigation unit of the US Consulate General in Mumbai had sent a mail to the Mehsana police to conduct an inquiry to find out how these four students from Mehsana received very high scores and which agency or agents were involved, he informed. All the six students from Gujarat nabbed earlier are still in the US and doing jobs there. They are on bail and can not leave the country till the pendency of the case against them, said the inspector.

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