The special task force (STF) probing the recruitment scandal in Madhya Pradesh is struggling to unravel the mystery of a Hindi word, suspected to hold the key to cracking a case in the multi-layered scam, investigators said on Friday.
The STF had stumbled on the word 'mantrani' in an excel-sheet recovered from a hard-drive of a former employee in the MP Professional Examination Board, where the scam took place.
'Mantrani' is believed to be a reference to either the wife of a minister (mantri) or a woman minister, sources in the STF said.
The STF has already named 'mantrani' as a suspect in the FIR filed in the forest guard recruitment exam held in 2013. Governor Ramnaresh Yadav is also named as an accused in the same case.
An STF official said that in the excel-sheet — recovered from former principal system analyst Nitin Mahindra’s computer – the word was written before the name of a candidate hailing from Damoh district.
The candidate is known to be close to a top minister of the state and even worked at the minister's house for about six years, the sources added. The STF has also failed to nab the candidate till now.
Sources said that Pankaj Trivedi, a former controller of exams of MPPEB, had asked Mahindra to ensure that the candidate cleared the written exam. The examination scam saw touts manipulate seating arrangements of candidates, provide forged answer sheets and even arrange proxy candidates to write the exams.
"We had plans to take Trivedi into custody once again and interrogate him about mantrani but it has not happened so far. Only Trivedi can disclose the identity of mantrani or the candidate who was recommended by the minister," said a senior STF officer.
Justice Chandresh Bhushan, the chief of special investigation team (SIT) monitoring the STF probe, said "it's up to the investigation officer… Let him do his work his own way. It is premature to comment on the issue."