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Vyapam scam: Forgery blame flies as departments try to deflect taint

Madhya Pradesh professional examination board, known as Vyapam, and the directorate of medial education are engaged in a blame game over a letter from 2014 which “exposed” a development that later grew on to take shape of the wide-ranging “scam”.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2018 22:49 IST
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Bhopal, Hindustan Times
Vyapam scam,Forgery blame,Madhya Pradesh professional examination board
File photo of students protesting against the Vyapam scam.

The two departments responsible for medial education in the state — the Madhya Pradesh professional examination board (MPPEB), popularly known as Vyapam, and the directorate of medial education (DME) — appear to be engaged in a blame game over a letter from 2014 which had reportedly “exposed” a development that later grew on to take shape of the wide-ranging “scam”.

At the heart of the controversy is the fate of a letter written by then MPPEB director Tarun Pithode on July 8, 2014 to the directorate, pointing out the modus operandi undertaken in the pre-medical test (PMT) row.

The exam was conducted by the Vyapam that year.

Pithode had referred to documents that showed 88 PMT candidates in 2012 and 119 in 2013 getting selected for admission into private medical colleges through state quota, but not going through with the admission, thereby facilitating a scenario where the seats were sold by the colleges to the highest bidder.

It was this aspect that the CBI, while probing the alleged scam, unearthed and took cognisance of to register cases and make subsequent arrests of directors and owners of several private medical colleges in the state.

The letter, which should have alerted the DME about a possible anomaly, reportedly never reached its office, the directorate has claimed. The MPPEB claimed the letter was delivered in 2017, three years after it was written.

The DME, writing to the information commission, said that the receipt of the letter shown by the Vyapam was “forged”, and that there was no corresponding entry in its records.

The state information commissioner noted in its order in an RTI questionnaire that had this 2014 letter reached on time, the damage caused by the “scam” could have been “contained”.

MPPEB chairman Deepak Khandekar said, “ I have no idea about it (the letter). All correspondence comes to the director, and not to me, and the letters are sent by the director.”

MPPEB director Chandra Mohan Thakur refused to take calls and responded to a text, saying, “Please ask the public relations officer for comments.”

Public relations officer Alok Verma said, “Yes, this appears to be a serious matter, but I don’t know anything about it. I will find out and let you know.” When contacted on Friday morning, he did not answer the call and left a message, “I am at a meeting.”

DME officials were equally evasive. Commissioner SS Shukla, from whose office the letter was written to the information commissioner, said, “I have no idea, all matters relating to RTI is dealt by the director.”

Director, DME, Ulka Shrivastava said, “We replied that we had not received any letter from Vyapam, which is the fact. I can’t comment on Vyapam’s contention that we had received letter in 2017. May be it was their carelessness or their ignorance that made them furnish a forged document.” Asked why no action had been initiated against Vyapam officials for forging document, she said, “We do not have concrete details. If this escalates and damages our image further we will take the necessary action.”

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 22:46 IST