Six months after his son Devendra Nagar, 22, died in a road accident in 2013, Special Task Force (STF) personnel arrived at his village Birkhadi — some 450kms from Bhopal — to inform Asharam, 70, that his son was an accused in the Professional Examination Board (PEB) scam and was charged with fraud and criminal conspiracy.
Sitting in his neighbour’s courtyard, Asharam recounts: “I wondered what case could there be against my son since he was dead. They (the STF personnel) asked for his death certificate and after handing over a copy of that, I thought the matter was over. But it was just the beginning.”
Having received a notice from STF headquaters in Bhopal for mandatory presence before STF officials on June 29 with a warning of punitive action if he skipped the date, Asharam rushed to Bhopal. He had taken his son’s mobile phone along, which the STF had been asking for.
“I gave them the phone but there was no SIM card. They asked for the SIM card and when I told them I didn’t have it, one of the officials said you could be called again… For them, I may be the father of a racketeer, but I don’t have the money to feed his two sons and widow who stay with us. They call me to Bhopal, but don’t pay for the ticket or food or stay. I can’t afford to go to Bhopal again.”
He added: “I told the officer next time, I will come only after they send me money.”
Still refusing to believe that his son had any links with the scam, Asharam asks, “Can you believe a 12th pass student from agriculture stream could be part of a massive scam? He used to go to Bhind every day as part of his job as a medical representative with a small pharma company. Would somebody making a lot of money through a racket still go to work for a salary of Rs 3,000?”
Devendra’s elder brother, who is an industrial worker, said, “He was somehow feeding his wife and children, and they are accusing him of being part of the job scam.”