Deaths of accused natural: MP Home Minister on Vyapam scam

Deaths of accused natural: MP Home Minister on Vyapam scam

Amid fresh Opposition demands for a CBI probe into the high-profile MPPEB scam in the wake of deaths of 25 accused and witnesses, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Babulal Gaur today termed them as "natural" deaths and ruled out probe by the central agency into the scandal.

"All deaths are natural deaths," Gaur told PTI when asked about the deaths of so many people in the scam so far.

"The accused fell sick and died," he said reiterating that all these are "natural" deaths.

Two more accused in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam, also known as Vyapam scam, died in Gwalior and Indore yesterday, adding another murky dimension to the massive scandal in which 25 accused and witnesses have died so far.

Referring to the Congress' demand of handing over the probe to CBI, Gaur said that even Supreme Court had rejected the demand and added that the inquiry into the scam is presently going on under the strict monitoring of Madhya Pradesh High Court.

"There is no need for a CBI probe," he said.

The death of 40-year-old Dr Rajendra Arya at Birla Hospital in Gwalior yesterday was reported after his condition suddenly deteriorated, while that of Narendra Singh Tomar (29) in Indore jail was under mysterious circumstances.

Arya, who reportedly held an MBBS degree, had allegedly helped two students clear Pre-Medical Tests (PMTs) conducted by MPPEB in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Tomar, who was posted as Assistant Veterinary Officer at Raisen before being embroiled in the MPPEB scam, was an accused in the Pre-Medical Test conducted by MPPEB in 2009. Tomar was said to have arranged for impostors who had written the papers in place of genuine aspirants.

Three days back, the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the scandal had submitted to the MP High Court that 23 deceased in the MPPEB scam had died unnatural deaths so far. Some reports have claimed 40 such deaths.

The most high-profile death was that of Shailesh Yadav, son of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. Shailesh, 50, was found dead at his father's residence in Mall Avenue area of Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on March 25 this year.

Ram Naresh Yadav, also a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, was himself made an accused in the MPPEB scam before getting relief from the court.

Vyapam scam is a massive admission and recruitment scandal involving politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen. Several politicians, including former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, a host of officials and scores of aspirants have been arrested in the case. 

Accusing the chief minister of trying to cover up, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said the party has lost faith in the SIT appointed by the court.

"More than 41 people who were accused have died mysteriously. But unfortunately the Chief minister is trying to cover up and we are fighting the battle in court.

"We have lost total faith in the SIT appointed by the honourable High Court. They themselves have conveyed the helplessness to guide the STF investigation. So we have no option but to go to Supreme Court," he said.

BJP leader Kailash Vijayarga said, "I have got to know that Narendra Tomar has committed suicide. Police is investigating the matter and it is true that it's an abnormal death but I cannot ascertain the exact number of deaths of the people connected in the Vyapam Scam".

BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao said a large number of people have been arrested in the scam.

Vyapam Scam is one of the most extensive investigations that have been done in the country so far, he said.

"The Jabalpur HC had examined this matter several times and expressed complete trust in the investigation. The HC has constituted a special investigative team headed by a retired judge of High Court and there is a Special Task Force which is reporting to the SIT. It is one of the most robust investigations to get to the truth.

Things like these will be certainly be taken cognisance of by the SIT," Rao said.
Terming the way the case is being handled as very "saddening", senior advocate Vivek Tankha said, "I haven't seen such a scam in the whole world.

"The way in which this is being handled is very saddening. There is no confidence in the investigation and it is not going in the right direction. In a way we are witnessing the biggest cover up story of India. We are soon going to the Supreme Court. We will inform the SC about the two deaths that have taken place," he said.

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