Advertisement

  • News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

All You Need to Know About The Vyapam Scam

Photo Credit :

Certainly, the Vyapam scam is a huge embarrassment for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh government, which has already lost a lot of its moral sheen. At present, Chouhanshould act proactively to recommend an independent probe and hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
 
According to an official count, 23 accused and witnesses linked to the scam have died since the scandal broke two years ago, while the Congress claims the figure is 45.Many of the people who died were potentially valuable witnesses, links to powerful figures associated with the scam.
 
On Sunday, a senior doctor --  Dr Arun Sharma -- probing an aspect of the Vyapam scam found dead in a Delhi hotel, a day after an Aaj Tak television journalist, who had gone to interview the father of a girl allegedly linked to the scam investigation, died mysteriously at Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh).
 
The back-to-back unexplained deaths have raised suspicion of foul play because Sharma is the second dean of the same medical college to have died under suspicious circumstances in the past two years. Both he and his predecessor, Dr D.K. Sakalle, are said to have been probing the matter. Sakalle was found charred to death at his home, the police claiming suicide.

What is Vyapam?

Vyapam short for the Madhya Pradesh Vyavasayik Pariksha Mandal (also called Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board) conducts recruitment examinations for different state level posts, which are not filled through the Public Service Commission.
 
Established in 1982, Vyapam once had the reputation of being an honest organisation, which kept political interference at bay. Admissions to medical, engineering, agriculture and management courses and to prestigious government colleges were done by the agency. In 2008, its mandate was expanded to conduct recruitment exams for teachers, police constables, sub-inspectors, forest guards, jail guards, food inspectors and excise officers among others. 
 
What is the scam all about?
 
Organised rackets allegedly rigged tests conducted by the MPPEB for admissions and recruitments to various courses and government services. According to police, scamsters employed imposters to write papers, manipulate seating arrangements and supply forged answer sheets by bringing officials.
 
The scam was a well-oiled system of state-bred corruption in which money was distributed among politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, police, students and private medical college owners.
 
How did the scam come to light?
 
In July 2013, eight impersonators were arrested for standing in for registered candidates and taking a pre-medical test in Indore. The arrests followed a tip-off  from two whistleblowers -- Dr Anand Rai and Ashish Chaturvedi. 

The Modus Operandi
 
There were three tactics: 

A) Impersonation: Bright students were hired for a fee and there pictures were pasted on examination cards and they wrote examination on behalf of an aspirant. The examination board officials later replaced the photograph with that of a real aspirant. While the bribe rate started from Rs 15 lakh for pre medical test, it was more than Rs 50 lakh for admission to post graduate (medical).
 
B) Engine and Bogie: A bright person - the engine --  was strategically placed between two bogies or aspiring candidates so that both copy from engine's answer sheet. The examiners were bribed to fix seating arrangements.
 
C) Post-script: Candidates were asked to leave their answer sheets blank but were given high percentages. Later the answer sheets were filled to ensure that the marks were future proof.
 
What was the government doing?

Although the admission racket has been traced in 2007, the BJP government did little till 2013. In September that year, examination controller Pankaj Trivedi was arrested. So far some 2,000 people (mostly touts and students) have been arrested, and the state police are looking for about 700 more. However, most big suspects are still untouched.
 
Who are the top accused?
 
Former education minister Laxmikant Sharma was jailed for fraud in the contract teachers recruitment test. His former officer on special duty (OSD) OP Shukla and former PA Sudhir Sharma are also behind bars.
 
Shukla was charged with taking Rs 85 lakh from suspended officials of the PEB — director and controller of tests Pankaj Trivedi and principal systems analyst Nitin Mahindra -- for getting candidates selected.
 
Dhanraj Yadav, former OSD to governor, is accused of being involved in the recruitment of a large number of candidates through his links with suspended PEB officials.
 
In February this year, Madhya Pradesh police registered an FIR against governor Ram Naresh Yadav in connection with the Vyapam scandal. Yadav was accused of manipulation, cheating and criminal conspiracy in connection with government recruitments conducted by the MPPEB. According to media reports, Yadav had named five candidates for selection as forest guards in a recommendation to senior officials of the exam board.
 
In March this year, Yadav's son Shailesh Yadav was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his father's official residence in Lucknow. Shailesh's name had cropped up in the Vyapam scam for allegedly fixing the recruitment of 10 candidates as Grade III teachers.
 
DIG RK Shivhare, a suspended IPS officer, was arrested for allegedly getting candidates selected in the sub-inspectors recruitment test. His daughter and son-in-law were allegedly involved in fraudulently cracking the pre-PG (medical) entrance test.
 
What about the deaths?

Whistleblowers and accused started disappearing since January 2012. 

Namrata Damor was one of the students accused of using corrupt means to get admission. She was found dead on railway tracks in Ujjain in 2012.

In 2013, D K Sakalle , the former dean of Jabalpur Medical college was found charred to death at his home, the police claiming suicide.

According to media reports, three accused picked from three different parts of Madhya Pradesh were killed in hit-and-run. The police failed to explain how the three accused were travelling in the same car.

Pharmacist Vijay Singh Patel was found murdered in a hotel room at a Bastar hotel in Chhattisgarh. His father, Chottelal Patel, said Vijay died while he was out on bail in the Vyapam case and that the death was suspicious.
 
Dr Rajendra Arya, 40, an accused in the case, died at the Birla Hospital in Gwalior after his condition deteriorated suddenly. 
 
Narendra Singh Tomar, 29, died in Indore Jail under mysterious circumstances.
 
How many were affected?

As many as 1,087 ineligible students got admission in medical colleges from 2008 to 2013. Their admissions were cancelled. Thousands of candidates who appeared in the rigged tests were also affected.

The Investigation
 
The probe into the scam was handed over to the Special Task Force (STF) of the Madhya Pradesh police. The high court is monitoring the STF's probe directly through a special investigation team after the Opposition accused the BJP government of going slow on the investigation. 

A Brief Timeline

July 07, 2013: Indore police arrested fraudsters appearing in pre-medical examination.  Kingpin Jagdish Sagar is also arrested. 

September 2013: Case is transferred to a special  task force

Vyapam's controller of exams Pankaj Trivedi arrested 
 
December 2013: Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti demands CBI probe after her name appears in media as a benefidacy
 
Aprll 2014: Dhanraj Yadav. officer on special duty to Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, arrested
 
DIG  R.K. Shivhare  arrested
 
June 2014: Prem Chand Prasad. former private secretary to  Chief Minister  Shivraj  Singh Chouhan.and  his daughter get anticipatocy  bail
 
Former education minister Laxmikant Sharma arrested
 
Names of  former RSS chief K.S.Sudarshan  and senior RSS leader Suresh Soni appear in statement of the accused
 
November  2014: High  Court forms a special investigation team under a retired HC judge to monitor investigation by special task force
 
February 2015: FIR liled against Governor Ram Naresh Yadav and his son Shailesh Yadav
 
Congress releases SMS records of Sadhna Singh, wife of the CM, being in touch with some of the accused
 
May 2015: FIR against Governor Ram Naresh Yadav quashed by the high court .
 
June 2015: High Court asks STF to inquire about the deaths of people linked to the scam.


Tags assigned to this article:
vyapam scam madhya pradesh government