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

Messi seeks revenge for 1990 final defeat by Germany

  • Sandipan Sharma
  • |
  • Updated: Jul 11, 2014 15:49 IST

Statues of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona and his compatriot Lionel Messi were unveiled, along with a statue of former Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta, ahead of the 2014 World Cup at a public square in Buenos Aires. (Reuters Photo)

Somebody up above has plotted the Argentina-Germany final. And he seems to be torn between his love for Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

The plot is perfect. Throw at Messi the challenge of repeating what Maradona achieved and settle the ‘who is better’ debate once and for all.

In 1986, when Maradona lifted the World Cup at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico, his opponents were the Germans, though from the west side of the Berlin Wall.

And in 1990, when he lost the trophy in a veil of tears and a lot of humiliation because of his side’s poor, scrappy game, Maradona’s opponents again were the Germans. What he won from the Germans, Maradona lost to them four years later.

In 2010, Messi’s side lost to the Germans and suffered the humiliation of a 0-4 loss. In 2014, his opponents once again are the Germans. What Messi lost to them, he can reclaim four years later.

Somebody seems to be working hard to make Messi retrace Maradona’s journey. The great fan up above is making Leo re-live Diego’s tears, travails and triumphs.

Maradona must be smiling. Messi must be nervous. And the fans are salivating. Finally, Messi has the chance to settle the debate, on a similar stage, against similar opponents and in a similar grudge match. The script is so similar that Messi appears to be acting in a remake of a Maradona film.

The Maradona vs Messi argument — a welcome distraction from the Maradona vs Pele discussion — has gone on for so long that it had to come to a climax. And a great denouement awaits us.

Critics often argue that the level of club football is much higher than international football and by dominating it for ages Messi has proved his greatness. With his penchant for scoring at an exceptionally high rate, he has earned the reputation of a ‘playstation player’, an epithet bestowed upon him by Arsene Wenger.

Messi has won almost everything he has touched. It is said often that once he reaches a final, he always ensures that his side lift the trophy.

But for thousands of fans, especially the ones who treat the World Cup as the final frontier, Messi is still not Maradona.

In 2010, in his second World Cup, Messi struggled to score. Though to be fair, he hit the goal post on so many occasions that it seemed he was destined not to score.

In contrast, Maradona’s second World Cup was an event made just made for him. Unless Messi does something similar, unless he makes the final his own, he would remain in Maradona’s shadow.

It is possible. The difference between the two players is not ability. But Messi is yet to prove that he has Maradona’s killer instincts.

Maradona, unlike Messi who seems to rely just on ability, would stop at nothing to win. He would dribble (1986), tackle, scrap, cry (1990), dive, dope and even cheat (1994) to win.

His ‘Hand of God’ goal is legendary. It is an enduring symbol of his desire to win. But there is another incident that shows why Maradona had a bigger appetite for success.

In the 1990 World Cup, Brazilian player Branco complained that he felt a little groggy and tired during the second half in their knockout game against Argentina.

He alleged that he was offered water laced with a drug by Maradona during the break. But nobody believed him until Maradona cheekily revived interest in the episode in an interview some years later.

He admitted to nothing, but did joke he had encouraged Brazilian players to drink from that water bottle. 

Messi needn’t drug Miroslav Klose or Sami Khedira during the final. But on Sunday he needs to prove that nice guys also finish winners. And that too against Germany.


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