Vyapam: SC should monitor probe

The multi-crore scam in admission to professional colleges and in recruitment to government jobs in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh is clearly an indication that the state’s institutions have degenerated and are rotten beyond belief. Key personalities are linked to the scam while at least 40 people, comprising the accused and witnesses, have died mysteriously. Even as we write this, a journalist belonging to a prominent channel covering the scam has died. So too the dean of a medical college helping investigators, found dead in a Delhi hotel. Such a large number of deaths linked to one scam may be unmatched anywhere in the world.  Even more astounding is that the scam has not been able to generate the kind of outrage across the country that one would have expected. News stories regarding the scam too have been few and sketchy, if at all. 

The scam revolves around the functioning of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or the Madhya Pradesh Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam). Exposed by a whistleblower in 2013, the scam involves impersonating candidates sitting for various entrance exams in the state including medicine and engineering. The fraud later spread to recruitments into government departments, the entrance exams of which were handled by the MPPEB. Once the scam was unearthed, a spate of arrests followed including that of the Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav’s son Shailesh Yadav, former state education minister Laxmikant Sharma, top officials of the MPPEB and scores of students, middlemen and other state officials. Prima facie, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) found that several officials manning the system were brazenly taking part in the fraud assisted by an army of middle-men and students.
The scam makes a complete mockery of the principle of fairness, honesty and justice -- without which institutions cannot survive.

The Vyapam scam does not end with mere cheating but, from all accounts, is being engineered by powerful people or groups whose stakes are so deep they will do anything to see that the kingpins are never traced.  The sheer ruthlessness that underlie the mystery deaths is probably even beyond what a seasoned crime writer can visualise. And, the most shocking part is that the Madhya Pradesh government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan does not seem to be accountable to anyone. The CBI must step in and Chouhan should resign to enable a fair investigation which needs to be monitored by the Supreme Court. The Congress claims it has evidence to show Chouhan, his wife and officials in his office too are involved. The party is moving the Supreme Court requesting it to assist the CBI in investigating the scam. Sooner it is done, the better.
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