Indian police arrested five men caught with tiny receivers hidden in their ears hooked up to sim cards hidden in their flip-flops to cheat in an exam to become a teacher in western Rajasthan.
More than 1.6 million people sat the test to try to qualify for government teaching jobs – of which 31,000 are available – in 4,000 centres in the state on Sunday as tens of thousands of police officers stood guard outside exam venues to deter cheating.
Police said they arrested the men from Bikaner district as they attempted to enter the exam venue wearing customised flip-flops with a sim card concealed inside.
“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," Priti Chandra, Bikaner's leading police officer, told The National.
Ms Chandra said the rubber flip-flops were designed by a gang that sold them to candidates appearing for the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers.
Each pair was procured for 30,000 rupees ($407) and then sold to the candidates for 600,000 rupees ($8,142), she said.
Police suspected at least 25 candidates were sold the devices and have launched an investigation and a manhunt.
Cheating, fraud, impostors and paper leaks are common at exams across India, which attract tens of thousands of people competing in a cut-throat contest for a handful of jobs.
Candidates have progressed from using conventional cheating methods, such as concealed paper notes, to high-tech devices.
Last week, the state government warned that job hopefuls might try to use mobile devices in the exams and asked district authorities to stop internet services to deter candidates from cheating.
At least 10 of the 33 districts in the state suspended internet and SMS services all day on Sunday to conduct the exams that saw police officers patrol outside exam venues, markets and railways stations.
Authorities had also predicted the rush of candidates could pose a law and order challenge across the state.
Government jobs, although low-paying in India, are highly sought-after as they provide employment security and come with benefits, such as lifelong pensions and other perks.
Exam cheating has become a flourishing business in the country where people pay heavily to buy leaked question papers or have someone sit tests for them.
Police said they suspended seven officers over their role in helping candidates to cheat, along with the arrest of eight impostors pretending to be real candidates.