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Vyapam: CBI's credibility dented

DH News Services, Bengaluru, Dec 1 2017, 10:48 IST

The CBI's investigation into the Vyapam scam, which has rocked Madhya Pradesh for over four years, has reached the final stages, with the filing of charge-sheets against 592 people. An earlier charge-sheet had been filed against some others. The scandal has attracted national attention also because of the large number of people and the amount of money involved in it, the role suspected to have been played by highly-placed persons in it, and the death of over 40 people, both witnesses and suspects, during the investigation. It showed how fraudulent medical admissions could be. But while charge-sheets have been filed, the investigation itself has come under doubt and is facing serious criticism. The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to investigate the scandal and the conspiracy behind the death of so many people connected with the case. But the investigation has left some key questions unanswered.

The Vyapam (Vyavasayik Pariksha Mandal) scam first became public in 2013, with the arrest of 20 people in Indore. It involved what is called an "engine-bogey" system of pairing of candidates to take the admission test in various examination centres and later manipulation of the admission process with forgery, impersonation and other malpractices. Medical college authorities, education department officials, brokers, students and their parents were all involved in various ways. It has been widely believed from the beginning that such a big scam could not have taken place and continued for so many years without the knowledge and connivance of those in the government, politicians and senior officials. Even the names of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and the then Governor of the state, Ram Naresh Yadav, had been mentioned. The CBI has now ruled out the role of Chauhan or those close to him in the scandal. The names of politicians who were once arrested do not figure in the charge-sheet now.

Those charge-sheeted include 334 candidates, 155 guardians, 46 invigilators, 26 officials of private medical colleges, 22 middlemen and two officers of the state government. The previous charge-sheet had named three other government officials, besides others. It strains credulity and common sense to believe that an entire admission system could be hijacked for so many years with just five middle and lower level government officials facilitating such a large-scale fraud. Most surprisingly, the CBI also found no connection between the scam and the deaths in suspicious circumstances of many people involved in the case. The Vyapam scandal had robbed the medical admission system in Madhya Pradesh of its credibility. The investigation into it has now dented the credibility of the CBI, perhaps beyond repair this time.

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