Vyapam scam leaves a trail of 45 mysterious deaths in MP – Badal Saroj


———-The battered body of Namrata Damor, 25, was found near the rail tracks in Ujjain. The MP government claimed that it was a suicide, while her family alleged that one of the kingpins of the Vyapam ( Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal) scams, Jagdish Sagar, had got her killed. But no one reserves a railway seat 10 days earlier and goes that far to commit suicide.


——–Veterinary doctor Narendra Singh, 29, dies in a jail in Indore. The MP government says the cause of his death was heart attack, while hospital records show that he was admitted after he complained of stomach ache.

These deaths are of two young people who were either suspects or beneficiaries of the biggest scam in MP in recent years and were being investigated. Till now, there have been 45 suspicious deaths related to the Vyapam case. While the government and the ruling BJP are claiming ‘only’ 25 deaths so far, this figure itself is not small. These ‘suspicious’ deaths include Shailesh Yadav, the MP Governor’s son (allegedly died of heart attack following diabetes), Vijay Singh (died in a hotel in Kanker owned by a BJP leader). The Dean of Jabalpur Medical College, D K Sakkale, died of burns and Ramendra Singh Bhadoria was found hanging in his house in Gwalior among others. The chain of suspicious deaths continues.


The abnormally high number of suspicious deaths throws up some questions about the dangerous truth lurking in the background.


An organised scam


The admission scam came to light after PMT tests for seats in medical colleges in 2009. Initially, Vyapam was meant for admissions only to medical and engineering colleges. Before this, it was enough to be on the merit list after passing class XII to become and engineer or doctor. After the admission of some students after copying came to light in two-three districts, the SFI spearheaded a massive movement in MP, the government was forced to introduce the system of entrance exams. The irony is that a system that was supposed to check fraudulent admissions ended up becoming one of the biggest scams after BJP rule began in 2007. Vyapam exams were now being held to select food inspectors, forest conservationists, sub-inspectors, subedars, etc. Plenty of government functionaries started acted as middlemen, including some in the governor’s office. The biggest name among the scamsters is Sudhir Sharma, a mining mafia don.


From Munnabhai to home delivery


The modus operandi of the scamsters included changing pictures in the admit card and impersonating the real candidate to leaking papers and facilitating copying. Recently, the state audit division found that Vyapam had printed 29 lakh OMR (answer) sheets and admit cards for 9 lakh examinees! The scam is not about printing in excess and causing a Rs 9 crore loss to the exchequer, but that no record can be found of about 20 lakh answer sheets. Clearly, these would have been used in the scam.


Sangh-BJP nexus


While a Minister, some officials and BJP leaders have been arrested so far and an SIT has also been set up, but all these actions seem aimed at catching the small fish and protecting the bigger ones. The SIT itself has admitted that the hard disks of Vyapam computers have been tampered with. Prashant Dubey, a whistleblower, who fears a threat to his life, has said that he had submitted an explanatory noted stating all this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a State minister Kailash Vijayvargiya before it was submitted to the High Court.


Due to tinkering with the records, the names of Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, his wife and many RSS functionaries are under cloud for their association with the admission scam for getting their own candidates selected, sometimes even for a price.  According to the excel sheet in the hard disk submitted to the Delhi HC, Chouhan’s name appeared 48 times, which was later cut and replaced by Uma Bharti’s name, who rised such a  shindy that the DGP personally visited her and gave her a clean chit, assuring her that she will not be investigated.


The probe also revealed that about 350 calls were made from the CM’s office. One minister’s PA has also admitted taking Rs 85 lakh as bribe.


The cover-up in this Rs 10,000 crore scam is such that the hard disk said to have been tampered with by the SIT has been given a clean chit by the Shivraj government. It is a different matter that the hard disk was sent to a Gujarat lab for an authenticity check, instead of  the Central Forensic Lab.


Shunning the Vidhan Sabha


Facing attacks from all sides and after the emergence of new evidence, the scared Shivraj government is scared to face the Vidhan Sabha.  For the first time in a parliamentary democracy, the budget session lasted only 6 days without passage of the budget or the accounts. Now the BJP government is trying all its tricks to appease, buy out or scare Congress members. What Shivraj fears is that if former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala is serving a 10-year jail term for the selection scam concerning less than 200 teachers, his predicament may be greater if he is found guilty.


Vyapam is not the only scam haunting the MP government. Over 150 scams involving thousands of crores have been unearthed so far, involving not only the CM and his wife but other BJP ministers as well. It is a different matter that the State Lokayukta has been giving them a clean chit, which is why he was recently given another extension. As per law, Lokayukat is selected by a committee that includes the CM and the leader of the Opposition. But in this case, a government joint secretary’s letter was considered sufficient for the job.


A bigger question


The bigger question that the Vyapam scam raises is not related to admissions, but human life. India is the only country where capitation fee of about RS 40-50 lakh is taken for a seat in a medical college.  We should ask proponents of a market-oriented economy as to what kind of medical treatment they expect from people who are unqualified but have the paying capacity to buy seats?  BJP, too, should be asked about its lofty promise of a corruption-free India.


An organised scam


The CPI(M) state secretariat has termed this as the most organised scam in independent India and the related deaths as a calculated conspiracy. It is a shameless and horrifying cover up of a crime to protect the Big Fish. Probe agencies such as SIT and STF have lost their credibility as their only job has been to protect the CM and BJP/RSS leaders. It demanded that a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe should be done (this has now been announced). It has also called for bail and protection of those arrested in relation to the scam, as well as for their kith and kin, otherwise the dance of death will continue in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.


Note: After this article, TV Today journalist Akshay Singh, who was probing the scam and was visiting MP, died allegedly due to cardiac arrest, while Dr Arun Sharma, Dean, Jabalpur Medical College, was found dead in a hotel room in Delhi, also allegedly of heart attack.