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

Bhardwaj murder: Son sent to police custody

  • IANS, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 10, 2013 21:02 IST

File photo of dead BSP leader Deepak Bhardwaj. HT archive

A Delhi court on Wednesday sent realtor Nitesh Bhardwaj, son of billionaire BSP leader Deepak Bhardwaj, to six days' police custody for allegedly killing his father even while the defence opposed the judicial questioning.

A lawyer co-accused was also sent to police custody for interrogation for six days till April 16.

Metropolitan Magistrate Prashant Sharma granted police remand of the two accused, saying allegations against them were serious in nature and investigation was still at an initial stage.

Nitesh, 36, Bhardwaj's younger son, was arrested Tuesday for his father's March 26 murder at a Delhi farmhouse. Nitesh's aide and advocate-cum-property dealer Baljeet Singh Sehrawat, 51, was also arrested the same day.

Both accused were presented before the magistrate by police.

The court said: "It is specified in the application that co-accused have to be traced, SIM cards used by accused have to be unearthed, money involved in the case has to be recovered...and motive of the accused has to be investigated vis-a-vis their criminal conspiracy in the offence in question."

Police said in their application that they needed the custody of the accused to conduct raids on the possible hideouts of co-accused in Dehradun and Haridwar in Uttarakhand, Solan in Himachal Pradesh and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.

The public prosecutor said the custody of accused was needed to establish the chain of events which led to Bharadwaj's killing.

The magistrate said: "These aspects of the case need detailed investigation. Therefore, present application moved by IO (investigation officer) is allowed. Accused  Nitesh Bhardwaj and Baljeet Singh are sent to six days' police custody. They be medically examined before and after police custody."

The court also directed police to get the accused medically examined after every 48 hours.

The prosecution also told the court that police were still to establish the motive behind the crime and trace the source of money allegedly paid for the contract killing.

Nitesh destroyed his mobile phone which he was using during the time of conspiracy and commission of crime, the prosecution said.

The prosecution said Baljeet Singh's custodial interrogation was needed to know the whereabouts of co-accused Pratibhanand, who is untraceable and on the run.

Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, appearing for Nitesh, opposed the police remand of the accused, saying there was no evidence against his client and the arrest was not justified.

"They have to justify in the court that they have material to arrest Nitesh," the advocate added.

Gupta said that accused had been cooperating with the investigators and there was no need to arrest him.

He said, on one hand, the police application in court said that the motive was yet to be established, and on the other, the area deputy commissioner of police Tuesday disclosed the alleged motive of the crime on camera.

Deepak Bhardwaj was gunned down by contract killers Sunil Mann alias Sonu and Purushottam Rana alias Monu at his 35-acre farmhouse in south Delhi.

Bhardwaj was one of the richest candidates for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and had declared assets worth Rs.600 crore.


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