Pune : The gang involved in the distribution of fake Secondary School Certificate (SSC) marksheets of the Maharashtra State Open School – busted last week by the Pune police – disseminated more than 2,700 such marksheets, officials probing the racket said on Tuesday.
Amol Zende, deputy commissioner of police (crime), Pune city police, said, “After technical investigation of the material seized from the accused, it was found that the accused had distributed over 2,700 fake SSC marksheets of the Maharashtra State Open School through 21 bogus sub-centres. Of the 2,700 fake marksheets, 35 to 40 were used for various purposes.”
The gang was involved in selling fake certificates under the names of the Board of Secondary Education Sambhaji Nagar, Amdas University, Maharashtra State Open School Sambhaji Nagar and Maharashtra State Open School Board of Secondary Education among others, Zende informed.
Investigation revealed that the gang members were also involved in the sale of fake degree certificates (B.Sc., B.Com., ITI). The gang was found to be operating from Sangli, Sambhaji Nagar, Dharashiv, Pune city and Pune rural.
Ramnath Pokle, additional commissioner of police (crime), said, “This gang has a very large reach. As of now, we have identified 15 to 17 agents who had zeroed in on potential consumers and sent their information to primary operators. During the investigation, more such agents have been found and the figure is likely to rise further. Verification of the fake certificates is underway.”
The Pune city police crime branch unit had busted the fake marksheet racket last week, arresting four persons identified as Saiyad Imran Saiyad Ibrahim from Sambhaji Nagar, Altaf Sheikh from Paranda in Dharashiv district, Krushna Sonaji Giri from Bidkin in Sambhaji Nagar, and Sandeep Dyandev Kamble from Sangli district.
Elaborating on the modus operandi of the gang, the police said that Saiyad Ibrahim had developed a fake website of the Maharashtra State Open School through which he sought out people requiring SSC certificates in their existing jobs. He even opened 21 sub-centres and appointed agents to run these sub-centres. As of now, the police have busted three such sub-centres while the hunt for the remaining sub-centres is underway.
According to the police, Saiyad Ibrahim would charge sums ranging from ₹35,000 to ₹65,000 depending on the percentage of marks the customers wanted printed on their fake marksheets. Currently, the police are on the lookout for other agents associated with Saiyad Ibrahim.
Sharad Gosavi, chairman of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE), said that the State Institute of Open School (SIOS) is a separate board. “The SIOS used to conduct exams for Class 5 and 8 but not for Class 10 and 12. The fake certificates were being distributed in the name of SIOS.”
“In the ongoing system, there has been provision of form number 17 since 1966 for students of Class 10. Therefore, according to us, there is no need for SIOS for students of Class 10 and 12,” Gosavi said.
Gosavi said that the response to SIOS’s exams for Classes 5 and 8 is very poor. Only 35 students enrolled for Class 5, while 50 students enrolled for Class 8. A total of 85 students enrolled for SIOS’s Class 5 and 8 exams.
The police said that the prime accused has confessed to creating a fake website and issuing bogus graduation certificates. The arrested accused were produced before a city court on Monday after serving their original custody period. Saiyad Ibrahim’s custody has been extended till May 13 while the remaining three accused have been given 14 days of magisterial custody.