The Madhya Pradesh government has listed 14 deaths linked to a multi-layered scam in exams to select candidates for a wide range of professional courses, apparently an attempt to scale down the enormity of the scandal.
Rattled by 37 mysterious deaths of witnesses, whistle-blowers and accused, the BJP-led government said less than half of them died after 2013 when a Special Task Force began investigating the scam, where many suspects are individuals who have held positions of power.
Former Independent MLA Paras Saklecha, the first whistleblower, said on Wednesday the government was trying to cover up frauds committed in the past as the scam was going on for years but never properly investigated.
About 3,000 admissions to medical colleges were suspected between 2008 and 2013 but the majority of them were cleared, a medical education department official said. “Of these, 315 students of medical colleges were expelled for adopting fraudulent means during the admission process.”
Sources in the STF said they, too, suspect the scam was continuing even before organised rackets turned it into a money-spinning industry. “It was a small-scale operation till 2006. After 2008, rackets made it big in connivance with some PEB officials, who were helping anyone willing to pay,” said an STF official.
However, STF chief Sudhir Sahi couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.
A middleman arrested in connection with a forest guard recruitment exam recently told investigators that he helped a candidate pass the pre-medical test (PMT) in 2004.
“I repeatedly raised the issue in the assembly in 2009. Subsequently, the government ordered an inquiry. The medical colleges conducted internal probes and hundreds of MBBS students who got admission through rackets were expelled,” Saklecha said.
He said the PEB conducted 96 examinations from 2004 to 2013 but the STF probe is limited to a dozen-odd, chiefly those held in 2012-2013. “If the probe goes deeper in the past, officials who were heading PEB then would fall in the net.”
The scandal — also known as the Vyapam scam from PEB’s Hindi acronym — was exposed when Indore Police found multiple rackets while probing complaints of imposters in the PMT.
Read:In Vyapam scam, 10 dead in mishaps and 4 suicides