Ruling out any inquiry into the deaths of accused and witnesses linked to the professional examination board scam, Madhya Pradesh home minister Babulal Gaur on Monday described them all as “natural deaths”.
Since the multi-layered scam in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or "Vyapam" came to light in 2013, at least 25 accused and witnesses have died in mysterious circumstances. This has spurred demands from the opposition for a probe.
“There is no necessity of any inquiry. These are natural deaths. Some died of heart attacks, some died of other ailments. Only a doctor can establish the reason,” Gaur told Hindustan Times.
Two deaths were reported on Sunday, one from Indore and another from Gwalior. Of the total deaths, 23 have been mentioned in the records of the Madhya Pradesh high court. Seven of the 25 deaths were reported from other states.
Unofficial reports have put the death toll at 41. Others linked to the scam have said they received death threats.
24 mysterious deaths, 2000 arrests: All about MP's Vyapam scam
Responding to a question on whether the deaths at regular intervals did not warrant his attention and a discussion within the home department, if not an inquiry, Gaur said there was no such requirement as these were natural deaths.
Gaur said the investigation into the scam is transparent, and it is being monitored by the high court. As far as the opposition’s call for an inquiry by the CBI is concerned, even the Supreme Court had rejected this demand, he said.
Narendra Singh Tomar, an accused in the scam and an assistant veterinary officer, was among the two people who died on Sunday. Tomar, who allegedly appeared in the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) of 2009 in place of another candidate, died under mysterious circumstances in Indore jail.
Rajendra Arya, an assistant professor in Bundelkhand Medical College at Sagar, died in a hospital in Gwalior. He allegedly helped two candidates clear the PMT in 2007 and 2008.
More than 2,000 people have been arrested in connection with the scam, which involved organised rackets allegedly rigging tests conducted by the MPPEB for admissions and recruitment to various courses and government jobs.
Police say scamsters employed imposters to write papers, manipulated sitting arrangements and supplied forged answer sheets by bribing officials between 2012 and 2013.