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Achuthanandan blames Sooppy, Basheer

Special Correspondent

`Chief Minister trying to shield guilty in SSLC question paper leak case'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, said neither the Education Minister, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, nor his predecessor, Nalakath Sooppy, could escape blame for the SSLC question paper leak.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, he alleged that the State Government, during Mr. Sooppy's tenure in 2001, had awarded the contract for printing question papers to a person called Rajan Chacko, accepting a `fake quotation' submitted by him. The contract was later renewed after Mr. Basheer replaced Mr. Sooppy as the Education Minister.

He said the Chennai-based printing press, Viswanathan Printers, had been handling the printing of question papers for many years prior to 2001. "The Crime Branch Police, in its affidavit submitted to the court, has confirmed that Mr. Chacko had submitted a fake quotation in the name of the owner of this press to win the contract for himself. This was with the knowledge of Mr. Sooppy and the renewal, subsequently, with the knowledge of Mr. Basheer," Mr. Achuthanandan alleged.

Bribery charge

The Opposition leader said according to information he had received, Mr. Sooppy's agents had demanded a bribe from the owner of Viswanathan Printers in 2001 for awarding the contract. He, however, refused to pay the bribe and chose to back out of the work. Using this opportunity, Mr. Chacko, who was the General Manager of Viswanathan Printers, faked a quotation in the name of the owner of Viswanathan Printers and won the contract with the help of Mr. Soopy's agents here. Mr. Chacko then got the question papers printed at Viswanathan Printers as a `job work,' Mr. Achuthanandan alleged.

He alleged that the Crime Branch was now under pressure to go slow on the probe. Mr. Achuthanandan said Mr. Chacko had links with not only the present and former Education Ministers but also "some big wigs in other sectors." He said the issue was basically about the very credibility of the SSLC examinations and how it was being sabotaged by corrupt politicians.

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