Most rusticated medical students in the Vyapam scandal in Madhya Pradesh belonged to reserved categories and poor families, raising questions about where they got the bribe money from and whether they were a ruse to shield children of influential people.
Data on students found guilty of using impersonators to write pre-medical tests (PMT) conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board or Vyapam, between 2008 and 2011 show about 65% were from SC and ST communities. It has been alleged these students were being targeted to protect the bigger fish.
Many suspects in the multi-crore scam, which was exposed when Indore police found in 2013 multiple rackets rigging the PMT, are powerful people.
“Can you imagine tribal boys and girls hiring an impersonator through a middleman to write his papers,” wondered Jitendra Malviya, a student of Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, Indore, who was rusticated. Son of a tailor from Manawar town in tribal-dominated Badwani district, Malviya was a fifth-year student when he was thrown out of college.
In early July, Hindustan Times found that many accused students in the Gwalior-Chambal region were from a poor background.
One such student was Ramendra Singh of Gwalior’s Gajraraj Medical College. Son of a laid-off mill worker, he had completed his MBBS course but the dean of his college accused him in 2012 of getting admission by cheating.
“How did the dean imagine that Ramendra, who could never pay his fee on time, hire an impersonator to write his PMT. On January 7 this year, he committed suicide and four days later, his mother died too,” a family friend said.
Vyapam scam investigators later said Singh was clean.
Dr Nirbhaya Shrivastava, a former dean of Bhopal’s Gandhi Medical College, said he had seen poor people thrown into jail on charges of paying lakhs for admission of their wards. “The investigating agency must trace the money trail to get to the bottom of the scam.”
Whistleblower Paras Saklecha gave a spin to the debate, saying some of these students were from well-off SC/ST families. “It was easier for impersonators to ensure selection of SC/ST students because average marks were enough to get them through.”