The CBI has asked a government-run engineering college in Uttar Pradesh to provide details of students it admitted between 2006 and 2013 as part of a probe into the multi-layered Madhya Pradesh Vyapam test-rigging scam that has captivated the nation.
The bureau in its mail to the Harcourt Butler Technological Institute (HBTI) in Kanpur specifically sought information about those who secured admission through the UP State Entrance Examination, the first time that the agency has asked an engineering institute to furnish such details.
The agency recently arrested 19 medical students of the Kanpur-based GSVM College and served notices to at least 52 others, asking them to appear before the MP Special Task Force (STF).
The CBI took over the Vyapam investigation in July after more than 40 accused, beneficiaries, whistle-blowers and witnesses died mysteriously, with many accusing there was a systematic attempt to scuttle the inquiry that has singed top bureaucrats and politicians.
At least 2,800 people have been arrested and hundreds are wanted in the scandal with multiple rackets helping candidates manoeuvre the examinations for money, including employing imposters to write test papers, manipulating seating arrangements as well as supplying forged answer sheets.
The Opposition has used the issue to target the BJP, which is in power at the Centre as well as the state, demanding the resignation of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The director of the Kanpur-based HBTI, Dr Ashok Kumar, said the institute was collecting the information sought by the CBI and the academic section would submit the details of 4,000 students within two weeks.
Before the CBI took charge of the case, the Madhya Pradesh STF conducted several raids in Kanpur and even put up posters of some medical students wanted in the case.
Of the 19 students arrested, 12 were granted bail by MP courts. The STF suspected that these students were hired by owners of cram schools in Kakadeo, a coaching hub, to appear as dummy candidates.