Bhopal, Jan 13 | The Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission on Monday expressed regret for a question paper in Sundays examination that described the Bhils as a community with “criminal-tendency “.
The question triggered a major row in the state that has a sizeable Bhil population. The commission also served notices on two persons involved in setting the paper and asked them to reply in a week.
The BJP and ruling Congress were quick to seek action against those responsible for the lapse.
“There was serious mistake in setting the question paper, which should not have happened. MPPSC is regretful and I am hurt as well,” Chairman Bhaskar Choubey said in Indore, the MPPSC headquarters.
“We are finding out what went wrong in setting the question paper. We have served notices to paper setter, and moderator, who checked it before it went to press. The two have been asked to explain in a week. On the basis of their replies, action will be initiated,” Choubey said. However, he refused to divulge the names of the setter and moderator for confidentiality in such matters.
An expert committee will look into the objection of the candidates about the controversial question and act accordingly. If the panel recommends the two will be debarred from MPPSC examination process for good.
During the MPPSC’s preliminary examination held across the state on Sunday, the question paper for reasoning and aptitude had a passage which described the Bhil community as having “aparadhik pravriti” (criminal-tendency) and indulging in “alcoholism”.
Taking strong objection to the reference, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Gopal Bhargava hit out at the government. “This reflects the Congress government’s thinking towards innocent tribals and it is highly derogatory for the entire tribal community,” the BJP leader said.
BJP MLA Ram Dangore (30), who also appeared for the preliminary exam conducted by the MPPSC, brought it to the notice of his party and the media after he came across the controversial passage in the question paper. Dangore, who represents Pandhana seat in Khandwa district, demanded action against those who set the question paper and a case against them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The lawmaker took the exam as he is also a teacher and imparts coaching to aspiring students. Therefore, he wanted to understand the current pattern of the exam.
Another Congress MLA and former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria, who is also a tribal, condemned MPPSC chairman Bhasker Choube for the lapse and demanded the latter’s removal from the post.
Earlier in the day, MPPSC secretary Renu Pant dubbed the matter as “unfortunate” and said they were trying to find out how such “error” occured.