Saurabh Singh, the 15-year-old student, who is in the middle of a controversy after he reportedly claimed he had topped an exam conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, on Thursday gave a new twist to the whole affair.
He said the examination was conducted by the Oxford University in England for a scholarship to study in the space agency.
"I never said it was an exam directly conducted by NASA. I had taken a test conducted by the Oxford University. They said I would be given a scholarship to study at NASA, that they would give me training, arrange for my sustenance and even my stay there," Singh told Star News.
On Wednesday, NASA said it had not conducted any such examination as was claimed by Saurabh.
Meanwhile, a Kota-based private coaching centre had advertised in a national daily that it had trained Saurabh.
The advertisement by Vision-2000 IIT JEE Foundation said the exam had been conducted only three times. "President Abdul Kalam cleared it in 1960, Kalpana Chawla in 1988 and Saurabh Singh in 2004-05," it said.
The centre, congratulating the boy, also invited applications for the course, which, it claimed, Singh had attended.
However, after the controversy erupted, the institute has sought to distance itself from the affair. Officials of the institute asserted they believed Saurabh's claim. They said they did not have any knowledge of the boy appearing for any examination.
"We were informed by Saurabh's family and friends that he had topped the examination. We asked him whether it was true and he replied in the affirmative," Saurav Mishra, in charge of the institute's management section, told PTI over phone.
He said since Saurabh had been a student of the institute, they took pride in the 'feat' and issued the advertisements. Saurabh had undergone coaching at the institute from April last year but 'discontinued' in October, Mishra said.
Asked how the institute assessed his capabilities, Mishra said he was 'not extraordinary'.
Saurabh could not be reached for his comments.
With Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow