The CBI registered its first cases in the multi-crore Vyapam scandal on Wednesday, focussing on a clutch of medical examinations held between 2009 and 2011 that an allegedly compromised state-level probe did not investigate.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed five FIRs, indicating it was ready to expand the scope and surpass the limitations of a special task force probe. The cases registered by the CBI were in connection with three examinations that were allegedly rigged -- pre-medical test (PMT) in 2010, PMT in 2009 and pre-PG (medical) entrance in 2011.
The agency named member of the Madhya Pradesh Backward Classes Commission, Gulab Singh Kirar, and his son, Shakti Pratap Singh Kirar, among the accused.
One of the cases pertains to alleged irregularities in the forest guard recruitment exam of 2013, in which governor Ram Naresh Yadav was named as an accused by the state police only for the charges to be quashed by the high court later.
The CBI also asked for records and evidence related to the state police’s probes into four Vyapam-linked deaths that occurred under suspicious circumstances, six days after the Supreme Court handed over the inquiries into the multi-layered scandal to the central agency.
“Records have been called from the police of five districts related to the deaths of Namrata Damor, Vijay Patel, Rajendra Arya, television journalist Akshay Singh and Deepak Verma,” said CBI’s spokesperson Kanchan Prasad. The string of mysterious deaths triggered nationwide outrage and allegations by whistleblowers of a massive cover-up to shield top bureaucrats and politicians.
The CBI resgistered three cases to probe alleged irregularities in the pre-medical tests held in 2010 and 2011.
Another case is against eight accused, including Kirar and his son, over reported illegalities in the 2011 pre post-graduate exam conducted by Vyapam on charges of impersonation, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. Others named include the board’s former examination controllers Sudhir Bhadauria and Pankaj Trivedi.
The special task force (STF) that probed the Vyapam scam for almost two years never looked into the alleged irregularities in these examinations, sources said.
"From 2008 to 2011, dozens of recruitment tests and entrance exams were rigged but were never probed", said whistleblower Paras Saklecha, a former MLA from Ratlam.
Saklecha said even the former controller of examination of the professional examination board (PEB) -- also termed Vyapam -- were not quizzed.
The education department, meanwhile, has taken action against hundreds of students who got admission in medical colleges by unfair means between 2008 and 2013.
"The scam was on from as early as 2004. However, it functioned as an organised racket after 2006, and thus probe is needed for the period before 2012-13," said an STF official.
Sources said that more FIRs could be registered in the coming days, and cases would be registered against high-profile suspects who were not booked by STF.