Mumbai, June 30: It is most definitely the biggest scam to have ever rocked the state of Madhya Pradesh. It has shaken the very foundation of democracy and opened not one but several cans of worms. Although it was uncovered in its entirety in 2013, Vyapam Scam has come in the limelight again and is has been taking one sinister turn after another. The recent death of two more accused in the case, both under mysterious circumstances, has indicated that the case is murkier than it appears to be. Read:Father of dead Vyapam scam accused seeks CBI probe of death
Here are all the major facts about the Vyapam Scam, all in one place:
1. What is the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB)?
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. 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 too on a very large scale. 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.
2. The Scam
Organised rackets allegedly rigged tests conducted by the MP Professional Examination Board (PEB) for admissions and recruitment to various courses and government jobs. Police say scamsters employed imposters to write papers, manipulate sitting arrangements and even supply forged answer sheets by bribing officials between 2012 and 2013. Among the tests rigged were the PMT 2008-13, Pre-PG test for postgraduate medical courses 2012, and recruitment exams for contract teachers, food inspectors, police constables and Ayurvedic medical officers. The price charged for a PMT seat was Rs. 15 Lakhs and for a PG seat in medical was Rs. 50 Lakhs.
3. The modus operandi
Following tricks were used by the officials and middlemen involved in the scam:
Impersonation – 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 impersonator was always some brilliant student and used to get hefty amount to secure the seat.
Engine and Bogie System – A person was strategically seated between two other candidates by the Board officials. The person let them copy from his sheet and the examiners were bribed to fix it.
OMR Sheets – 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. This was done so that if someone were to ever check those answer sheets, there would not be any loop holes that could give them away.
4. When was the Scam unearthed?
Complaints of irregularities and crooked deals in pre-medical test (PMT) were surfacing since 2009 but in the year 2013, a major scam was unearthed involving several officials and politicians. 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 filed by parents of some students after reports that more than 300 ineligible candidates managed to get into the merit list.
5. Who unearthed the Scam?
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.
6. Key Arrests
720 parents and students were booked and more than 129 politicians, officials and middlemen were arrested. Dr. Jagdish Sagar, the kingpin of the racket was arrested in 2013 and many more arrests of influential people followed his arrest. Laxmikant Sharma, ex-Education Minister (M.P) was arrested after his alleged involvement in contractual teachers recruitment scam. The exam was conducted by MPPEB and Sharma was its Minister in-charge in his capacity as the then Technical Education Minister in the last BJP government in the state. O. P. Shukla, posted as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) with then Technical Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma, surrendered two months after the investigation team released a lookout notice for him. Pankaj Trivedi, Examination Controller Vyapam, was arrested in September 2013 and is currently in a judicial custody. Many more prominent officers of Vyapam and government MPs were arrested in connection to the case.
7. The Mystery Deaths
Official figure of the number of deaths of people related to the scam is 25. This number includes both accused and witnesses and whistleblowers. However, some unofficial figures suggest that the actual number of deaths is above 40, the more daring claims putting the number to 44. Two accused were reported dead on Monday, following which, senior lawyer, Vivek Tankha, announced that he would move the Supreme Court on the matter of the unprecedented number of deaths. He believes that the Government has planned out a cover up of the deaths. Menwhile, MP’s Home Minister Babulal Gaur has maintained that all the deaths have been natural and that there is no conspiracy.