In July 2013, when the Indore crime branch first got whiff of an organised racket manipulating entrance exams to medical courses, the first name they heard from 20 arrested youth was that of a Dr Jagdish Sagar.
And when the youth were interrogated, out came details of one of the most stunning frauds ever perpetrated in the state – the now infamous Vyapam scam, a massive scandal of rigged examinations which saw hundreds of candidates buy seats in medical colleges and government jobs.
Two years later, investigators acknowledge Sagar as the kingpin of the racket, a cocky 42-year-old who loved to sleep on a bed of currency and flash his gold chain with a diamond pendent, vintage wine and a fleet of expensive cars.
Sagar, investigators say, produced hundreds of Munnabhais, a term used to describe people who acquire a medical practitioner’s degree by fraud, over a period of several years before his luck ran out and the scam in the MP professional examination board (PEB) became public knowledge.Watch:The A to Z of the Vyapam scam
“Every year, hundreds of youth cracked the exam through his (Sagar’s) connections in the PEB. By 2013, the number of candidates who had appeared in PMT through his racket had crossed 300,” a crime branch official said on condition of anonymity.
A native of Bhind district, Sagar himself had cracked PMT in his third attempt but by then he had gathered enough knowledge of how the system works.
Investigators said that Sagar employed hundreds of bright students – mostly from Uttar Pradesh – whom he paid anything between Rs 75,000 to Rs two lakh to appear in the PMT exams on behalf of the original candidates who coughed up something between Rs 15 to 35 lakh for a medical seat.
Later, he even bribed PEB employees and officials, turning his racket nearly foolproof. Or so he thought. Sagar was arrested in July 2013, from a hotel in Mumbai and skeletons came tumbling out of his cupboards and house and even his bedroll where police found Rs 13 lakh in cash, besides an assortment of weapons.
Police said that over the years, he had amassed property worth hundreds of crores, including a palatial bungalow in Indore, plots in the city, agricultural land in Gwalior and Bhind.
However, even after arrest he was unperturbed, always smiling and proudly telling the media that he would be out soon. But with the CBI taking over the Vyapam scam case, police say that Sagar was likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars.