Spare the 'fake' Bihar topper; hasn't she been punished enough?

It was overkill to arrest the 17-year-old Ruby Rai.

 |  5-minute read |   26-06-2016
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As she glanced back, you could almost see the nervous farewell look of the condemned in the eyes of the 17-year-old girl. What could have crossed Ruby Rai’s mind when she learned she was leaving the Board office and not going home?

Ruby, Bihar’s intermediate Arts topper till her result was annulled on Saturday (June 25), had reached the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) office to appear before a panel of experts. The panel was formed to re-evaluate the merit of the top rankers. As expected, Ruby could not answer a single question correctly.

The BSEB promptly cancelled her result. That was par for the course. But, then, as she thought the ordeal was over, Ruby was taken into custody.

Face covered, hand held firmly by a woman in khaki sporting a sheepish smile, the girl was driven to an undisclosed destination. The lady officer must have arrested real criminals before, but never before had she received such overwhelming media attention.

ruby_062616040347.jpg Ruby had pronounced political science as “prodigal science” and said the subject dealt with cooking.  

Ruby appeared too dazed to cry. She was clearly in shock; everything was happening just too quickly. There were no arms to console her.

Ruby clearly looked distraught and destroyed, with so many random thoughts, so much of fear, anger and raw emotion to understand what was happening.

What purpose will it serve to arrest her? Is she a victim or conspirator? The police have already cracked the result scam and arrested the three kingpins: Vishun Roy College principal Bachcha Rai, former BSEB boss Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife Usha Sinha - a former JD(U) MLA and the principal of Ganga Devi College.

Also read: With such rotten education, Bihar toppers' ignorance expected

Ruby only played her part, doing what she was told to; and according to preliminary evidence, she may not have even appeared in the Intermediate examination in which the BSEB awarded her 444 marks out of 500.

There are suggestions that a scholar may have instead written her copy. Or her answer scripts and evaluation sheets were tampered with.

The 17-year-old girl obviously did not plan the conspiracy, nor did she get it executed. In fact, she may not have planned anything in her life so far. Having seen their daughter clear her class ten examination with a second division, Ruby’s parents were desperate to get her top marks in the Intermediate examination.

In a patriarchal society like Bihar, where girls with ordinary looks need to do something extraordinary to get better-placed grooms and pay lesser dowry, Ruby parents obviously decided for her the college from where she would appear in the examination. They paid money to get the marks they needed for her. You cannot blame Ruby for her ordinary looks, or her parents for the society that we have in Bihar.

Also read - Open cheating in Bihar exams: Stop the outrage, feel the shame

The police have learnt that Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife Usha Sinha were paid hefty sums (said to be Rs 10 lakh) for declaring Shalini Rai, Bachcha Rai’s daughter, and Ruby as toppers. Why would you pay so much of money for a degree that can give you no jobs? If you are a girl in Bihar, such marks can stand you in good stead in the marriage market.

The investigation, though successful in cracking the results scam, has been a spectacle with planned media leaks to give the readers fantastic details to savour. You cannot blame the cops, as they seldom get public appreciation when they grapple with hardened criminals.

Also read: OMG! Cheating nothing new in Bihar. That's how I did it

But was it not overkill to arrest a girl in a case that has already been solved? What purpose will it serve? Is it not a farce, a ridiculous way to search for the truth?

But as we have learned, the truth is not always important. Perhaps in another era, or in the police manual, an investigation has to be an exercise in search of the complete truth, and the finding of justice. Now the police investigation looks like a contest to bag prizes, if there are some. And no one plays fair. The truth is lost in the melee.

Last month, it was Ruby’s infamous TV interview, in which the Intermediate plus-two Arts "topper" pronounced political science as “prodigal science” and said the subject dealt with cooking. The Bihar education department had on June 6 lodged a complaint with the police after reports showed some of the toppers, including Ruby, fumbling to answer even the basic questions.

The police have also registered an FIR under sections related to cheating, forgery and conspiracy, which had the names of four toppers (Science and Arts) — Shalini Rai, Saurabh Shrestha, Rahul Kumar and Ruby Rai, all students of Bachcha Rai’s Vishun Roy College.

The BSEB has already cancelled their results. Though Ruby is the only “topper” arrested so far, the police have warrants against the remaining three as well. The scam is bigger than Ruby. Bigger than what she may comprehend.

It the last one month, she has seen the peaks of happiness and pits of despair and the incipient depression. All this could be intense and desperate for Ruby; something she may not be able to take anymore.

Spare a thought for her.


Amitabh Srivastava Amitabh Srivastava

The writer is a Senior Associate Editor with India Today Magazine.

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