Less than 24 hours after the mysterious death of a journalist covering the Vyapam scam, the dean of a medical college in Madhya Pradesh who was assisting the probe, was found dead in a Delhi hotel on Sunday

    The two back-to-back deaths deepened suspicions about a systematic elimination of people linked to the racket and sparked further demands by Opposition parties for an independent probe.

    Delhi Police said no prima facie evidence suggested foul play in the death of 64-year-old Arun Sharma but didn’t rule out suicide as Opposition parties mounted pressure on the BJP for a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe.

    Sharma, the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College and Hospital in Jabalpur, died a day after a television journalist Akshay Singh passed away while interviewing family members of a student whose mutilated body was found on a railway track in 2012.

    Read: Vyapam scam: Cops say scribe death natural, autopsy report awaited 

    The death also comes exactly a year after the charred body of his predecessor DK Sakalle,60, was found at his house in Jabalpur. Dr Sharma was reportedly close to Dr Sakalle.

    Police said Sharma was found dead at a hotel in southwest Delhi’s Kapashera and an almost empty bottle of alcohol was found in the room that was locked from the inside.

    Sharma had checked into the hotel in Dwarka Saturday evening and was scheduled to fly to Agartala this morning for an official inspection of a medical college there, police said.

    His son told the police that he had been suffering from some heart ailments. Some medicines were also found in the room, police said.

    The Indian Medical Association’s Jabalpur unit president Sudhir Tiwari said Sharma handed over about 200 documents to a special task force regarding admissions to the medical college.

    Whistleblowers said Sharma’s death was important because hundreds of students from his institution were involved in rigging professional tests conducted by the MP Professional Examination Board (PEB) that has seen over 2,000 arrests.

    Organised rackets employed imposters, manipulated seating arrangements and forged answer sheets as part of the Vyapam scam, called so from PEB’s Hindi acronym.

    With the mysterious death of two persons in two days in connection with the scam, Congress and AAP demanded an independent probe into the scam.

    “Vyapam scam n all deaths so far ought to be thoroughly investigated. Guilty must be punished,” Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted as the AAP announced a nationwide protest on July 11.

    Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was among the prominent leaders who attended Singh’s funeral in the evening as the party demanded an independent probe.

    The Centre also stepped in, with home minister Rajnath Singh calling up Chouhan and reportedly asking him to conduct a probe into the journalist’s death.

    CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has so far ruled out a CBI probe into the deaths.

    Nearly 40 people linked to the scandal have died over the past few years, triggering allegations that witnesses, whistleblowers and accused were being silenced.


    HT Exclusive: In Vyapam scam, 10 dead in mishaps and 4 suicides

    Many mystery deaths and 2,000 arrests: All about MP's Vyapam scam

    Whistleblowers in MP exam scam spooked by mystery deaths, threats

Getting off very lightly

  • Karan Thapar
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 10, 2013 23:42 IST

I am not a fan of cricket and, to be honest, I don’t watch the game either. It bores me. In fact, when I have to do programmes on either the performance of the team or the politics of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) I rely heavily on the brief I’m given by my producers and researchers. On such issues I’m literally their spokesman!

However, one fact I have to accept is that cricket has special status in India. Whether you equate it with religion might be debatable but for hundreds of millions cricket is more than a game or entertainment, it’s a national obsession. Outside India, it’s almost the first thing people mention when they speak of India. So, regardless of my dislike of the game, cricket seems inseparable from my country.

Of late, however, cricket has become a national embarrassment. First came the unforgiveable shenanigans of the Indian Premier League and the BCCI. I don’t want to repeat what they have done but we can all recall the humiliation they cast upon us. Bookies, players, principals and owners, not to mention minor celebrities, are under investigation for some form or other of corruption or impropriety. What’s worse is it seems all of them, except Asad Rauf, are Indian.

Now, on top of all of that, comes the treatment of Parvez Rasool. This young Kashmiri was selected as part of the team to play 5 one day internationals in Zimbabwe. Even if it was entirely because of his talent, the selectors, the manager and the captain must have been aware of the impact this had on Kashmir. Equally certainly, they would have known of the emotional influence it would have on Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of India. As Sherlock Holmes would have put it, all of this is elementary.

Yet in the end Rasool was not given a chance to play. Not even after India was leading 4-0. He was the only player taken to Zimbabwe who never got a chance to bat or bowl.

Frankly, that’s not just inexplicable, even incomprehensible, but actually unforgiveable. Let me explain why.

In recent times we’ve become used to thinking of cricket as an instrument of diplomacy or a bridge between India and Pakistan. The BCCI knows that, so too the selectors, the manager, the captain and the players. So, in this instance, did they not realise that cricket would also act as a bridge between Kashmir and the rest of the country? Did they not know that to take Rasool to Zimbabwe but not play him even once would be humiliation not just for him but for the whole state?

What would it have cost the management and the captain to act more thoughtfully and sensitively rather than care solely and singularly about a 5-0 sweep? This was a chance to unite Kashmiri sentiment with mainstream India. Instead, we’ve added to the separation. This was a chance to field with pride India’s first national cricketer from Kashmir. And guess what? We blew it!

From a national perspective playing Rasool, even if the final outcome ended up 4-1, was far more important than returning from Zimbabwe with a 5-0 score.

Let me add I’ve read Virat Kohli’s explanation and, frankly, I’m not impressed. He claims he didn’t want to take “any game lightly”. But he ended up taking India and its far bigger concerns very lightly.

This was irresponsible behaviour. Frankly, the rest of us shouldn’t take it lightly.
Views expressed by the author are personal


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