Millennium Post

“Vyapam” scam biggest so far

What is Vyapam? Many people do not know what its means, even those well-versed in Hindi. What they understand is that Vyapam is a form of corruption which has now assumed serious proportions and threatening to cost Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan his job. Vyapam is <g data-gr-id="62">short</g> form of Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal; its English rendering is “Professional Examination Board”. The Vyapam scam is, in fact, an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials, and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), popularly known in Hindi as “Vyapam”, is a government body responsible for conducting several entrance tests in the state. These entrance exams are used for recruitment to government jobs and for admissions to educational institutes in the state. The scam involved a <g data-gr-id="63">collusion</g> of undeserving candidates, who bribed politicians and MPPEB officials through middlemen, to get high ranks in these entrance tests.

Now the Supreme Court has stepped in what may turn out to be one of the biggest scams in the country. The apex court has asked the CBI to investigate the Vyapam scam and the related deaths which, it is feared, has reached a staggering figure of 48. The M.P. government has already admitted that nearly two <g data-gr-id="79">dozen</g> of those who were within the ambit of the probe, had died unnatural deaths, and that many of them were between 25 and 30, with “road accident” being cited as the leading cause of death. An elaborate conspiracy to subvert the investigation and trial can be the only credible explanation for the string of deaths.

Now it appears almost certain that the Supreme Court will monitor the CBI investigation as M.P. government has no objection to such monitoring. This was also the demand of petitioners that includes former CM, Digvijaya Singh and others. The matter will be clinched when the SC meets on July 24.

The apex court has also sought the response of the state governor Ram Naresh Yadav who is also alleged to be involved in the scam. He is named in one of the FIR’s. The governor’s son, Shailesh, who was named by a witness as the recipient of some cash and a list of candidates, was dead. All <g data-gr-id="71">this,</g> has put a question mark on his continuance in the gubernatorial office. The centre may soon ask him to quit. Incidentally, Yadav is among the few UPA nominees to Raj <g data-gr-id="80">Bhavans</g> who survived the regime change in May last year. Why? But now with the Centre and the state opposing his claim to immunity, the odds appear to be against the Governor.

Pressure will inevitably mount for <g data-gr-id="69">resignation</g> of Chauhan too as the opposition is demanding that the Chief Minister has no moral right to continue in office. Hitherto the CM has been credited for the state’s economic turnaround, leading the state to be virtually dropped from BIMARU group of <g data-gr-id="61">under-performers</g>. He has also been a steady BJP CM consistently delivering electoral dividends for his party. However, his shoddy handling of Vyapam has not only cast a shadow over his record but also placed the central leadership of the BJP in an embarrassing situation and they may be forced to ask for Chauhan’s resignation.

At a time when the Modi government is trying to limit the damage from the Lalit-gate episode, Vyapam has come as a shock. It appears to be much bigger than 2G or Commonwealth games. The scams under UPA-II didn’t see mysterious deaths like Vyapam. The mega scam in M.P. is undermining the Prime Minister’s promise of ensuring corruption—free governance.

Never has the country witnessed the frightening phenomenon of around 48 deaths taking place in mysterious circumstances of those associated with Vyapam. Most “middlemen” died in “accidents”, the body of an accused was found on a railway track, yet others committed “suicide”.

Cases of irregularities in these entrance tests had been reported since the mid-1990s, and the first FIR was filed in 2000. However, until 2009, such cases were not thought to be part of an organised ring. When major complaints surfaced in the pre-medical test (PMT) in 2009, the state government established a committee to investigate the matter. The committee released its report in 2011, and over a hundred people were arrested by the police. A Special Task Force (STF) was established in 2012.

The sheer scale of the scam came to light in 2013, when the Indore police arrested 20 people who had come to impersonate candidates for PMT 2009. The interrogation of these people led to the arrest of one Jagdish Sagar, the leader of an organised racket involved in the scam. Subsequent interrogations and arrests uncovered the involvement of several politicians, bureaucrats, MPPEB officials, racket leaders, middlemen, candidates and their parents in the scam. By June 2015, more than 2000 people had been arrested in connection with the scam. These included the state’s ex-Education Minister, Laxmikant Sharma and over a hundred other politicians. The Supreme Court is now likely to monitor the investigation by the CBI in Vyapam scandal.      IPA 
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