Over two dozen persons were caught cheating on a national exam that might lead to a teaching career by wearing Bluetooth-enabled flip-flops to gain an advantage over the competition.
In India, cheating has long been a major issue, particularly during potentially life-changing exams. A few years ago, in Bihar, people climbed the walls of a school building to throw out cheat sheets to kids taking their year-end examinations inside, or army applicants being compelled to sit exams in their underpants to avoid cheating.
Authorities in Rajasthan went so far as to turn off the internet in the state during the exam this year to avoid cheating, but it didn’t stop cunning cheaters from trying to get a leg up in other ways. Bluetooth-connected flip-flops, apparently sold by criminal gangs for up to 600,000 rupees ($8,000) per pair, are the latest technique of cheating.
On September 26, more than 4,000 test locations were set up across Rajasthan, India, for the Rajasthan Teacher Eligibility Test (REET). The test hasn’t been given since 2018, and it’s regarded as a gateway to a career as a teacher, which is a valuable chance for many. For dozens of candidates caught last Sunday, it was important enough to risk cheating on the exam and end up in jail.
Authorities thought they had everything covered with the internet switched off statewide, shoes and sandals forbidden in exam centers, and extensive searches at entry points, but cheats always find a way. Over a dozen of them were captured with a SIM card hidden inside their flip-flops. To make the phone less noticeable, it was attached to small Bluetooth earpieces inserted deep in their ears.
One police officer said:
“The slippers had a sim card and the candidates had a tiny Bluetooth bug implanted in their ears. In one case, we had to take a doctor’s intervention to find the bug as it was so deeply implanted.”
The cheaters’ idea was to have outside accomplices phone their flip-flops so that they could surreptitiously dictate the answers to them and then receive the answers back. Only a few of the aspiring instructors began acting oddly before entering the exam rooms, prompting a more thorough search, which found the high-tech footwear.
Police official Priti Chandra said:
“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.”
The rubber flip-flops were allegedly designed by a gang that bought the necessary components for roughly 30,000 rupees ($400) and then sold them for a whopping 600,000 rupees ($8,000) each pair to applicants taking the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers.
During this week’s assessment, a total of 25 persons were detected sporting a pair. The number could have been higher, but when the cheaters were apprehended, word of the unique tactic spread around the area, causing many centers to urge candidates to remove their shoes outside the exam halls.
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