Death of a dean stuns Delhi; MP govt in dock

Rahul Gandhi arrives to attend the funeral of journalist Akshay Singh in New Delhi. Tribune photo

Vyapam scam: Mysterious deaths of witnesses, investigators

Death of a dean stuns Delhi; MP govt in dock

He was probing admission & job scandal rocking the state06 Jul 2015 | 2:02 AM

NEW DELHI: The Madhya Pradesh Vyapam (Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal) scandal took yet another sordid turn on Sunday with the death of a dean probing the scam in which nearly 26 – some claiming 45 – persons, mostly witnesses, have died, sparking a fresh Opposition offensive against the ruling BJP government in the state.

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Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5

The Madhya Pradesh Vyapam (Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal) scandal took yet another sordid turn on Sunday with the death of a dean probing the scam in which nearly 26 – some claiming 45 – persons, mostly witnesses, have died, sparking a fresh Opposition offensive against the ruling BJP government in the state.

Dr Arun Sharma’s death came a day after a TV journalist, who had gone to interview the father of a girl allegedly linked to the scam investigation, died mysteriously at Jhabua (MP).

Dr Sharma, appointed as the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College in Jabalpur two months ago, was assisting the state government-appointed Special Task Force in the probe. His predecessor Dr DK Sakalley, who was also a member of the probe panel, had died from burns at his home on July 4 last year.

The twin deaths led the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and the Left to demand a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into the massive admission and recruitment scam. Calling the Vyapam episode the "most sinister scam of India", Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said: "If the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has nothing to hide, why is it hesitant about a CBI probe? Some 45 deaths have taken place so far. This is unacceptable and tragic. A CBI probe is a must."

Delhi AAP convener Dilip Pandey said: "We have three demands — termination of MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, an independent inquiry by SIT into each death and a time-bound SIT probe into the scam under the Supreme Court’s supervision."

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: "The number of deaths in the Vyapam scam is unprecedented. A thorough CBI inquiry monitored by the SC needs to be done.”

"Since various issues are being raised with respect to the circumstances of this (journalist’s) death, it would be absolutely important that a very fair inquiry is held so that all doubts can be put to rest," Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today spoke to Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and asked him to conduct a thorough investigation into the death. During their 10-minute telephonic conversation, Singh asked Chouhan to order a thorough investigation into the journalist’s death.

Thereafter, Chouhan ordered an SIT probe but stood by his earlier stance that the ongoing SIT probe into the scam was enough to uncover the truth. In Delhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal attended the cremation of the TV journalist.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted that Dr Sharma had shared comprehensive information about the scam with the probe agencies.

The scam involves massive irregularities in the selection process for government colleges and jobs conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB). 

It involved the impersonation of candidates, rampant copying, blank answer sheets and fake marks. It dates back to 2007, with investigations in the case starting after some details came to light in 2013.

Several top board and CMO officials are currently behind bars after evidence of forged admissions 

and recruitment were unearthed by the Indore police. The STF, which is being monitored by the MP High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), has been asked by the Supreme Court to complete the probe by July 15.

The Congress has consistently alleged the involvement of Chouhan, his wife and top BJP leaders in the scam, and expressed lack of faith in the ongoing probe by the STF and the SIT.

More than 1,000 arrests have already taken place in the scam.

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