- WHAT IS VYAPAM SCAM?
Vyapam stands for Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board. The Vyapam scam pertains to manipulation in the selection process for government jobs conducted by the MP Professional Examination Board. The scam came into light in 2013, with reports that bribes were being paid by those seeking admission to medical colleges. In exchange for a huge sum of money, those in the government were allowing imposters to take the admission exam.
2. PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS SCAM
There are almost 2,000 accused in the scam and around 1,900 are reportedly in jail including former education minister Laxmikant Sharma and 500 said to be absconding. The arrested people included over a hundred of politicians, several MPPEB officials, bureaucrats, middlemen, students and their parents.
3. WORKING OF THIS SCAM!
There are three different ways in which this scam works:
(A) Impersonation: In this, all the detail is in the admit card, including name, date of birth, and roll numbers, of the candidate who is applying for the seat. However, the photograph is of the impersonator. An impersonator is one who writes an exam on behalf of someone else. In such cases, they are meritorious students who can score very high marks. The concerned officers on the examination board change the photograph back to that of the original candidate after the exam.
(B)Engine and Bogie system: A person is fixed by people on the board whose work is like that of an engine. He or she is seated strategically between two other candidates who want a seat. The engine helps them copy from his or her own paper. The examiners are usually bribed to fix the seating arrangements.
(C)Blank Sheets: The select candidates are advised to leave their answer sheets blank. They are randomly given high percentages after the exam. They then fill in the answers in the OMR booklet according to the marks they have already been given.
4. WHY HAS THIS SCAM COME INTO LIME LIGHT ALL OF A SUDDEN?
One of the first complaints was registered way back in 2000, but it was only by 2007 that the scam came to be highlighted as a professional racket. Investigations and arrests started in 2013 after new details emerged. Initially, Madhya Pradesh Local Fund Audit office for 2007-08 found alleged financial and administrative irregularities, including unauthorized disposal of application forms, worth crores of rupees by the MPPEB. In July 2013, the crime branch at Indore arrested 20 people, 17 from Uttar Pradesh for impersonating MPPMT candidates. Initially, the MP government had formed a special task force to probe the scam. However, The MP high court, rejecting Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s demand for a CBI probe, on November 5, 2014, formed a special investigating team (SIT) to investigate the scam. What is surprising is that since the investigation began, 45 people have died including witnesses, accused, people assisting the inquiry and a journalist. According to the report admitted before the Madhya Pradesh high court, 23 of these deaths were ‘unnatural’ causes. Although the state home minister Babulal Gaur is certain that the deaths had nothing unnatural about it as the victims just “fell sick and died”, both the Special Task Force and the SIT have said that people had died under mysterious circumstances.
5.PEOPLE ARRESTED IN THIS SCAM
In December 2013, the Special Task Force investigating the scam under the supervision of SIT formed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court produced a supplementary charge-sheet against the 34 accused in the Indore district court. In April next year, 27 students of MGM College were expelled for fraudulently clearing PMT-2012. Those arrested in connection with the impropriety also include MPPEB’s exam controller Pankaj Trivedi, MPPEB’s system analysts Nitin Mahendra and Ajay Sen and state PMT’s examination in-charge C. K. Mishra. MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife’s names were also brought up by the Congress party. Congress leader KK Mishra had alleged that the CM’s wife Sadhna Singh had got one of her relatives appointed in the transport department. However, the charge was denied by Chouhan, who fired a defamation suit back at Mishra. He added that if he would have been involved, this scam would never have been investigated. He even went on to say that said that it was not fair to link all unnatural deaths in the state with the Vyapam scam.
- The investigation in the scam commenced on July 7, 2013, on the basis of a report lodged on the information of an Indore-based civil rights activist, Dr. Anand Rai.
- Forensic expert Prashant Pandey said he became a whistleblower in July last year when he realized the special task force was relying on documents that seemed to have been tampered with.
- Gwalior-based social activist Ashish Chaturvedi claims to have disclosed the involvement of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s relatives and seven others in the scam.
The state government has also resisted an independent Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the matter, and CM Chouhan has reiterated that the state’s STF was doing a fine job. On July 7, the Supreme Court agreed to hear petitions seeking a CBI probe into the Vyapam scam. On July 9, Supreme Court ordered that all related cases, including the mysterious deaths of about 40 people should be handed over to CBI. The Supreme Court criticized the Madhya Pradesh High Court for not ordering CBI investigation immediately after the state government said it was not averse to such a probe. However, the question remains, will CBI probe into Vyapam scam unravel the truth?