New Delhi, Jun 29: The CBI conducted searches at seven locations in Gujarat on Saturday in connection with the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG exam and arrested a journalist in Jharkhand, officials said.

According to them, Jamaluddin Ansari, a journalist with a Hindi newspaper, was arrested on Friday for allegedly trying to help the principal and vice principal of a Hazaribagh school, both of whom are accused in the paper leak case.

Oasis School's principal Ehsanul Haque and vice principal Imtiaz Alam have already been arrested by the federal probe agency in connection with the medical entrance exam paper leak case.

The CBI on Saturday searched the premises of suspects in Anand, Kheda, Ahmedabad and Godhra districts of Gujarat. The probe agency is investigating a larger conspiracy spread across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Delhi and Jharkhand.

A special CBI court in Godhra on Saturday granted the probe agency four-day custody of Jay Jalaram School's principal Purushottam Sharma, teacher Tushar Bhatt, and middlemen Vibhor Anand and Arif Vohra, all of whom are alleged to be involved in irregularities in the May 5 NEET-UG exam in Godhra.

The Gujarat police had arrested five people, including the principal and the teacher, in connection with the paper leak case.

The CBI investigation has shown that the examination centres in Godhra and Kheda chosen by the National Testing Agency (NTA) were controlled by the same school administration, officials said.

According to sources, the accused allegedly asked candidates arranged by them from Odisha, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to mark Godhra as their examination centre and choose Gujarati as their language, they said.

"Investigation conducted till date has revealed that the accused persons who were given the responsibility of carrying out the examination in a free, fair and transparent manner were themselves involved in arranging candidates and facilitating them to attain good marks in the NEET exam for a hefty consideration," an official in the known of developments said.

The candidates arranged by the accused allegedly showed Panchmahal and Vadodara in Gujarat as their addresses, officials said.

The agency has claimed "a larger conspiracy" involving "interstate links" in the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG examination, they said.

The officials said the CBI would interrogate Purushottam Sharma, Tushar Bhatt, Vibhor Anand and Arif Vohra, who are understood to possess crucial information pertaining to "exposing the broader conspiracy orchestrating the manipulation of the NEET-UG exam".

The probe agency informed the court that it was essential to further the investigation, unearth the larger conspiracy and bring the masterminds to justice.

The CBI wants to probe the "extent of the connections" of arrested persons in other states from where they have arranged the candidates and their conspiracy with the accused persons of the other FIRs lodged by CBI in other states, officials said.

The CBI has registered six FIRs in the case. The FIR from Bihar pertains to leakage of paper while remaining from Gujarat and Rajasthan pertains to impersonation of candidates and cheating.

The agency's own FIR on a reference from the Union Education Ministry pertains to a "comprehensive investigation" into alleged irregularities in the medical entrance examination.

NEET-UG is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions. This year, the exam was conducted on May 5 at 4,750 centres in 571 cities, including 14 abroad. More than 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the test. PTI