Congress activists burn an effigy of MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal (photo: PTI)
The Vyapam scandal in Madhya Pradesh, a large examination rigging scam with thousands accused, has seen the death of more than 40 people connected with it – including a journalist and the dean of a medical college – many in suspicious circumstances. This has deepened suspicions about a systematic elimination of people linked to the racket, with opposition parties demanding an independent CBI probe.
Less than 24 hours after the mysterious death of a journalist covering the Vyapam scam, the dean of a medical college in Madhya Pradesh who was assisting the probe, was found dead in a Delhi hotel on Sunday.
Delhi Police said no evidence suggested foul play in the death of 64-year-old Arun Sharm, the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College and Hospital in Jabalpur, but didn’t rule out suicide.
Police said Sharma was found dead with an almost empty bottle of alcohol in his hotel room that was locked from the inside. His death also comes exactly a year after the charred body of his predecessor DK Sakalle was found in Jabalpur.
The Indian Medical Association’s Jabalpur unit president Sudhir Tiwari said Sharma had handed over about 200 documents to a special task force regarding admissions to the medical college.
Whistleblowers said Sharma’s death was important because hundreds of students from his institution were involved in rigging professional tests conducted by the MP Professional Examination Board (PEB).
Organised rackets employed imposters, manipulated seating arrangements, and forged answer sheets as part of the Vyapam scam, named after PEB’s Hindi acronym.
Sharma died a day after television journalist Akshay Singh passed away while reporting on the scam. He had been interviewing family members of a student whose mutilated body was found on a railway track in 2012.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was among the prominent leaders who attended Singh’s funeral as the party demanded an independent probe.
The central government also stepped in, with home minister Rajnath Singh calling up Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and reportedly asking him to conduct a probe into the journalist’s death.
Despite the rising body count and mounting political pressure, Chouhan has so far ruled out a CBI probe into the deaths.
Meanwhile, two senior officers of the Special Task Force (STF) investigating the scam claimed to have received threats allegedly from some influential people involved in it.
According to PTI, Assistant Inspector General of Police Ashish Khare and Deputy Superintendent of Police DS Baghel, who are the key investigators in the scam, have sought protection. They told the SIT chief that they are being hounded by influential people whom they are prosecuting, sources close to the officials said.