Vyapam scam: CBI files chargesheet against 490 people, does not name CM Chouhan
The scam that broke in 2013 allegedly saw candidates bribe officials, rig exams by deploying imposters to write test papers and supply forged answer sheets.india Updated: Nov 01, 2017 08:26 IST
Federal investigators virtually cleared on Tuesday Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and charged 490 people in the multi-crore Vyapam examination scandal that rocked the BJP-ruled state four years ago and affected thousands of students.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a court that there was no mention of word ‘CM’ in the hard drives recovered – as alleged by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and whistle blower Prashant Pandey. The agency presented its findings on the basis of forensic analysis of the drives.
“We have informed the special court in Bhopal on Tuesday that forensic experts have held that there is no tampering with the three computer hard disk drives (HDDs) that were recovered in the case,” CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal said.
The case pertains to the CBI’s probe into the 2013 pre-medical test conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (Vyavsayic Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam in Hindi).
Investigators said Vyapam officials colluded with racketeers to manipulate roll numbers of candidates and ‘solvers’ – the term used for paid candidates who helped others crack the exams. Candidates were seated behind their solvers, enabling the beneficiaries to copy the answers, the agency said.
Most of the solver candidates were either medical college students or bright medical aspirants undergoing coaching in MP, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
In the chargesheet, the CBI has named three Vyapam officials, three other racketeers, 17 middlemen, 297 solver and beneficiary candidates and 170 guardians of beneficiary candidates.
However, the CBI did not mention any possible action against Prashant Pandey.
“As of now, we have left it to the discretion of the court,” said a CBI official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
CBI officials said Pandey had provided two pen drives – one to the Delhi high court and another to the agency – which had five excel files allegedly containing references to ‘CM’ in it.
But the CBI said all these files were either created or modified after July 18, 2013 when the HDD was seized from the Vyapam office. Pandey had claimed that the pen drives contained the tampered and untampered versions of the excel files.
The forensic analysis report said the HDD was last shut down on July 15, 2013 and no file was accessed on it subsequently.
“The pen drive provided by the said private person to the Delhi high court as well to the CBI contains false documents….There is no grain of truth in the allegation that the HDD seized on July 18, 2013 from the office of then principal system analyst, Vyapam, was tampered (with),” the CBI said in its statement.
When approached for his reaction, Pandey said: “I copied the excel files from the HDD on the pen drive and that’s why they show a date of creation or modification after July 18”.
He added that had not seen the chargesheet filed by the CBI and “therefore I am not a position to comment on it in detail”.
The CBI will file another chargesheet in connection with its probe into the conduct of the pre-medical test in 2012.
The arrest of 20 people in Indore blew the lid off the massive scam in 2013 which quickly snowballed into the biggest crisis for Chouhan and led to more than 2,000 arrests, including politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen.
But the case grabbed national headlines two years ago, when witnesses, accused and alleged beneficiaries of the case were found dead over the course of a few months – mostly in mysterious circumstances. At least 40 people, including the son of the then governor, have been found dead since 2013 -- some bodies were found under bridges and on railway tracks while other died of freak accidents or mysterious illnesses, sometimes while behind bars.
The opposition Congress has repeatedly blamed the BJP for the deaths, which it alleges is a cover-up for the racket. Chouhan and the BJP deny the charges.
The state BJP was quick to accuse Digvijaya Singh of insulting the chief minister and BJP workers “with his bundle of lies”.
“We are considering a legal action against Digvijaya Singh and will also request the Supreme Court to take action against him for wasting the court’s valuable time on the basis of a forged document,” said Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, state BJP president.
The Congress, too, said it will move the top court on the matter.
“The CBI does not have the authority to give a clean chit to anyone and by doing so they are in contempt of the Supreme Court, which has clearly said in its order that the trial court will decide who is guilty or innocent,” said KK Mishra, the Congress spokesperson in MP.