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

    The two back-to-back deaths deepened suspicions about a systematic elimination of people linked to the racket and sparked further demands by Opposition parties for an independent probe.

    Delhi Police said no prima facie evidence suggested foul play in the death of 64-year-old Arun Sharma but didn’t rule out suicide as Opposition parties mounted pressure on the BJP for a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe.

    Sharma, the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College and Hospital in Jabalpur, died a day after a television journalist Akshay Singh passed away while interviewing family members of a student whose mutilated body was found on a railway track in 2012.

    Read: Vyapam scam: Cops say scribe death natural, autopsy report awaited 

    The death also comes exactly a year after the charred body of his predecessor DK Sakalle,60, was found at his house in Jabalpur. Dr Sharma was reportedly close to Dr Sakalle.

    Police said Sharma was found dead at a hotel in southwest Delhi’s Kapashera and an almost empty bottle of alcohol was found in the room that was locked from the inside.

    Sharma had checked into the hotel in Dwarka Saturday evening and was scheduled to fly to Agartala this morning for an official inspection of a medical college there, police said.

    His son told the police that he had been suffering from some heart ailments. Some medicines were also found in the room, police said.

    The Indian Medical Association’s Jabalpur unit president Sudhir Tiwari said Sharma 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) that has seen over 2,000 arrests.

    Organised rackets employed imposters, manipulated seating arrangements and forged answer sheets as part of the Vyapam scam, called so from PEB’s Hindi acronym.

    With the mysterious death of two persons in two days in connection with the scam, Congress and AAP demanded an independent probe into the scam.

    “Vyapam scam n all deaths so far ought to be thoroughly investigated. Guilty must be punished,” Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted as the AAP announced a nationwide protest on July 11.

    Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was among the prominent leaders who attended Singh’s funeral in the evening as the party demanded an independent probe.

    The Centre also stepped in, with home minister Rajnath Singh calling up Chouhan and reportedly asking him to conduct a probe into the journalist’s death.

    CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has so far ruled out a CBI probe into the deaths.

    Nearly 40 people linked to the scandal have died over the past few years, triggering allegations that witnesses, whistleblowers and accused were being silenced.


    HT Exclusive: In Vyapam scam, 10 dead in mishaps and 4 suicides

    Many mystery deaths and 2,000 arrests: All about MP's Vyapam scam

    Whistleblowers in MP exam scam spooked by mystery deaths, threats

A new species of butterfly that came to India by mistake

  • Kolkata
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 29, 2013 13:20 IST

The mistake of shipping weed to India along with a consignment of wheat from the US during the 1950s inadvertently gifted India a beautiful species of butterfly.

The simple but elegantly attractive Bath White butterfly, which derives its name from the English town of Bath where it was first recorded in Britain, is now found in the trans-Himalayan range.

Uttarakhand-based lepidopterist Peter Smetacek, who is considered an authority on Indian butterflies and moths, has presented the case of migration of this species in his book 'Butterflies on the Roof of the World'.

"Once, I was standing on the lawn talking with a visitor when a female butterfly laid its eggs on a weed a few metres away. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so I gathered the plant and eventually bred the caterpillars that emerged," Smetacek writes in the book published by Aleph.

As he tried to unravel the mystery behind the relationship of the butterfly larva and the plant on which it fed, he found that the plant was Virginia Peppergrass or Lepidium virginicum. The butterfly, therefore, came to be known as Bath White.

"This weed had been brought to India by mistake as part of wheat shipped from the United States during the 1950s and had spread rapidly through the country," says the naturalist, who has already described a dozen species of butterflies and moths new to science. The book is a result of spending a lifetime chasing butterflies in meadows and forests.

The butterfly was first recorded in Nainital district?s Bhimtal town on April 21, 1961 and thereafter became a resident.

"The only record I could find was that Virginia Peppergrass had reached Netarhat Plateau in Chhota Nagpur, Bihar. This would mean that the butterfly could theoretically extend its distribution eastwards through Nepal," writes Smetacek who also runs the Butterfly Research Centre in Bhimtal.

On checking information available on butterflies in Nepal, he discovered that the species was reported throughout that country in a book published in 2006, although it was not mentioned in a list published in 1951.

"As soon as the food plant spread through the Himalayas during the second half of the twentieth century, the butterfly followed and today is found along the southern face of the range from Kashmir eastwards at least as far as the eastern border of Nepal," says the book.

The butterfly's distribution is restricted to the trans-Himalayan zone of West Himalayas not by either temperature or humidity, but by the availability, or, rather, non-availability of a suitable larval food plant, it concludes.


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