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Vyapam, mother of all scandals

Surprisingly, Narendra Modi is still confident and feeling proud that his party is not involved in any scam and corruption. I think Vyapam scandal is the biggest scam of this decade, which is not only ignored but never uttered by PM Modi. His government and party came in scam trap in a very short span of time after coming in to power. On many occasions, the Whistle-blowers have demanded an inquiry into the death of another medical student, who died under mysterious circumstances on January 15 this year after being booked in the scam earlier in January.

Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) also known as Madhya Pradesh Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam) is a self-financed and an autonomous body incorporated by the State government. It was initially set-up in 1970 as Pre Medical Test Board to conduct entrance tests for medical courses. In 1981, Pre Engineering Board was set up to conduct entrance tests for engineering courses as well. But in 1982, both these boards were amalgamated to form Professional Examination Board (PEB).

The peculiarity of the Board lies in the fact that it is entrusted with the responsibility to conduct competitive tests for admission to various professional courses and that took on a very large scale. The power and authority of the Board can be ascertained from the fact that recently, the responsibility to conduct recruitment examinations for posts not covered by state Public Service Commission was also entrusted upon it. So basically, admission to all professional courses and recruitment to numerous jobs are conducted by the Board.

In 2013, Pre-Medical Test (PMT) scam was unearthed by Dr. Anand Rai. He is an Indore based Ophthalmologist, presently working as a medical officer. In the past, he has also worked to expose frauds in clinical trials. Thousands of candidates secured admission to medical colleges in the state through unfair means like impersonation and bribery. According to Dr. Rai, this scam dates back to 2004 and the first case was reported in Khandwa, a city near Indore.

Vyapam scam was a massive admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen. Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court served notices to Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) and Medical Council of India (MCI) following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by parents of some students after reports that more than 300 ineligible candidates managed to get into the merit list. The kingpin of the impersonation racket Dr. Jagdish Sagar was arrested and subsequently several other influential people were arrested including ex-Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma, MPPEB’s exam controller Pankaj Trivedi, MPPEB’s system analysts Nitin Mahendra and Ajay Sen and state PMT’s examination in-charge C. K. Mishra. The credit to expose the scam goes to Indore-based medical practitioner Dr. Anand Rai.

Shri Singh Kushwaha, SP (West), district Indore through letter number SP/ West/ PA/ 412/2013 dated 19.07.2013 informed Pankaj Trivedi, Controller, MP Vyapam that case number 539/ 13 under sections 419, 420, 467, 468 had been registered in Police Station Rajendra Nagar in connection with PMT 2013 exam and was under investigation. He also supplied the list of 317 suspect candidates, found from the home of the accused, to Pankaj Trivedi.

Owing to the political patronage enjoyed by him, Pankaj Trivedi, Examination controller, Vyapam was unperturbed and despite being involved neck-deep in corruption, he audaciously wrote a letter to Principal Secretary, Medical education department, Government of MP regarding PMT scam, virtually issuing instruction to his superior officer. In point number 4 of letter number MP Vyapam/4674 Bhopal dated 20.07.2013 he wrote, “In view of the above fact and the above mentioned letter of SP (West), District Indore, the fake / suspect candidates who have found place in the merit list should be allotted seats on a provisional basis during counselling with the condition that if his or her involvement in the crime number 539 / 18 is proved in the course of police probe / investigation, then his or her candidature will be considered automatically cancelled”.

On July 6 and 7, 2013, Indore crime branch had arrested 20 candidates from various city hotels of whom 17 belonged to Uttar Pradesh while three were from Madhya Pradesh. The candidates had come to impersonate MPPMT candidates.

At a high level meeting held in Bhopal in July 2013, senior bureaucrats raised serious questions on the police investigation in Vyapam scam and expressed surprise over the fact that Dr. Sagar could operate so smoothly. Moreover, they were shocked to know that no tab was kept on him as he was arrested in 2003 in similar case. In the same meeting, government admitted major lapses in its working that helped the pre-medical test scam thrive. In November 2013, the Special Task Force (STF) of Madhya Pradesh police made a shocking revelation that Vyapam officials rigged five more recruitment tests for government jobs in the state. Different FIRs against 153 people including mining baron Sudhir Sharma were filed. Sharma, a close confidante of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, was earlier interrogated by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with mining scam. In December 2013, Special Task Force produced a supplementary chargesheet against 34 accused, running into 23,000 pages in the Indore district court. Out of these 34 accused chargesheeted, 30 were students and their guardians. On April 29, 2014, 27 students of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) medical college were expelled as it was proved that they obtained admission via fraudulent means. On June 19, 2014, Special Task Force of Madhya Pradesh police issued a statement that it has arrested over 100 students for their involvement in the scam and this number could go up as arrests are being every day. All these students cleared the medical entrance test by fraudulent means.

In September 2014, shocking disclosure of rigging bank exams was made by Special Task Force on the basis of interrogation of Dr. Jagdish Sagar and Mohit Chaudhary. Numerous candidates who fraudulently cleared the written examination of bank recruitment, ultimately failed to clear the interview.

The admit card of the candidate was used to execute the trick. All the information of the candidate remained intact except the photograph. Candidate’s photograph was replaced by that of the impersonator and after the exam, it was changed back to the original. All this was done in collusion with the corrupt Board officials.

The select candidates were asked to leave their answer sheets blank. They were randomly given high percentages after the exam. Concerned authorities of the Board then filed an RTI demanding to view those answer sheets. They then filled in the answers in the OMR booklet according to the marks, they have already been given.

Vyapam admitted in the High Court that 1020 forms were missing and 346 imposters had appeared in the exam. Vyapam officials admitted in the court that 1120 candidates appeared in the exam but their forms were missing because Vyapam official and accused Nitin Mahendra had tampered with the Computers in which the record was stored. The STF has presented charge-sheet against 28 accused, including Jagdish Sagar, in Indore Court. The fact that the charge-sheet includes details of 3292 different offences and more than 92,176 documents is indicative of the enormity of the scam.

As per some reports, it is the mother of all scandals and the biggest one to rock Madhya Pradesh. Special Task Force of Madhya Pradesh police under the supervision of High Court is conducting the investigations. Enforcement Directorate under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in March 2014, booked MPPEB’s exam controller Pankaj Trivedi along with 25 other accused including former Madhya Pradesh higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma and his former officer on special duty O.P. Shukla. 720 parents and students were booked and more than 129 politicians, officials and middlemen were arrested.

Inputs from Wikipedia

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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