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Wednesday 8 July 2020

Vyapam toll 25

Bhopal — Two more accused in the high-profile Vyapam scam died in Gwalior and Indore, adding another murky dimension to the massive scandal in which 25 accused and witnesses have died so far.

While 40-year-old Dr Rajendra Arya’s death at Birla Hospital in Gwalior on Sunday morning was clearly due to an illness, the death of 29 year old Narendra Singh Tomar, in Indore jail has raised some serious questions.

The Congress on Monday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the high-profile scam in Madhya Pradesh, claiming as many as 43 accused and witnesses have died under mysterious circumstances.

Party spokesman Tom Vadakkan also said the investigation should be conducted by a Special Investigation Team. The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam, also known as Vyapam scam, Vadakkan said, was one of the biggest scandals in independent India that needed to be probed by an independent SIT under the direct supervision of the apex court.

Madhya Pradesh home minister Babulal Gaur on Monday rejected the opposition’s demand for handing over the Vyapam scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation after two more witnesses in the case died over the weekend, taking the toll to 25. The head of the SIT had put the deaths since the scam broke at 40.

The special task force (STF) of the Madhya Pradesh police is probing the scam for the past two years under the supervision of Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

”All deaths are natural deaths… There is no need for a CBI probe,” Gaur said when asked about the deaths of so many people in the scam, known by the Hindi acronym of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, the Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal.

The massive admission and recruitment scam, unearthed in 2013 but going back to at least 2008, involves politicians, bureaucrats and even the Governor’s family in the BJP-ruled state. Former education minister Laxmikant Sharma is among those arrested.

Vyapam scam was a massive admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen. The Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court served notices to Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) and Medical Council of India (MCI) following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by parents of some students after reports that more than 300 ineligible candidates managed to get into the merit list. Complaints of irregularities and crooked deals in pre-medical test (PMT) were surfacing since 2009 but in the year 2013, a major scam was unearthed involving several officials and politicians from the ruling BJP.

Jagdish Sagar (handcuffed)
Jagdish Sagar (handcuffed)

The kingpin of the impersonation racket Dr Jagdish Sagar was arrested and subsequently several other influential people were arrested including ex-Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma, MPPEB’s exam controller Pankaj Trivedi, MPPEB’s system analysts Nitin Mahendra and Ajay Sen and state PMT’s examination in-charge CK Mishra. The credit to expose the scam goes to Indore-based medical practitioner Dr Anand Rai.

Laxmikant Sharma
Laxmikant Sharma

As per some reports, it is the mother of all scandals and the biggest one to rock Madhya Pradesh. Special Task Force of Madhya Pradesh police under the supervision of High Court is conducting the investigations. Enforcement Directorate under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in March 2014, booked MPPEB’s exam controller Pankaj Trivedi along with 25 other accused including former Madhya Pradesh higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma and his former officer on special duty OP Shukla. 720 parents and students were booked and more than 129 politicians, officials and middlemen were arrested.

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