Close on the heels of the Supreme Court deciding to hear the petitions relating to the >Vyapam scam on July 9, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced on Tuesday that he was writing to the High Court asking for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.
“I thought about this seriously last night and I came to the conclusion that there should be a CBI probe in this matter,” Mr. Chouhan told journalists in Bhopal.
Bharatiya Janata Party sources said the State government would write to the High Court and request that the Vyapam investigations be handed over to the CBI.
While the State government has maintained that 25 people related to the scam have died, the Opposition alleged that the total number of such deaths had reached 48 on Tuesday.
On Monday, Union Minister Uma Bharti had said the deaths were causing widespread anxiety among the people of the State. Her statement sparked off speculation over internal differences building within.
The Congress, however, dubbed Mr. Chouhan’s decision “a political gimmick” and said it did not trust the CBI alone to conduct a fair probe unless it is monitored by the Supreme Court.
“This is the MP government’s way of hoodwinking the people. The Finance Minister said there should be an independent probe, Uma Bharti said she is worried for the safety of her people and the Special Task Force chief expressed apprehensions. In such an environment, only an SC-monitored inquiry is the answer,” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said.
Mr. Scindia alleged that Mr. Chouhan had made the announcement because he had come under pressure due to the upcoming hearing in the apex court on July 9.
Spate of deaths related to case abnormal, says SIT chief
Reacting to the Opposition’s allegation that senior BJP leaders were speaking in different voices on the demands for a CBI probe in the Vyapam case, the party defended Mr. Chouhan.
A party leader in New Delhi said that Mr. Chouhan was not averse to a CBI probe even earlier.
“He had simply said that the High Court was monitoring the investigation and therefore the State government could not refer the matter to the CBI,” a party leader said.
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh police denied that the death of a police constable in the State on Monday is linked to the Vyapam recruitment scam. Ramakant Panda, 38, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his home in Tikamgarh district on Monday. Police registered a case of suicide and started an investigation. According to officials, Mr. Panda had been one of three constables from Tikamgarh questioned by the STF on the scam. However, police said he had suffered from alcoholism and had been under heavy debt.
The head of the Special Investigation Team monitoring the probe admitted that the deaths related to the case were abnormal. Justice (retd.) Chandresh Bhushan said he had asked the STF to enquire into the deaths.
“I would not like to use that word [mysterious]. I will say there are certain deaths and those deaths are not normal deaths... So, if they have any connection... I am only interested in knowing if there is any connection with Vyapam scam... I will call them abnormal deaths,” he told reporters. “The STF is not probing these deaths and these deaths are being investigated by the local police concerned,” he said.
“I have asked the STF to enquire,” Mr. Bhushan said, adding that “if any connection can be traced, then we will ask STF to further investigate.”
“There must be a CBI probe. It is not a coincidence that all the accused are dying of one ailment or another. There is something more to it.” - Prashant Pandey, forensic expert and one of the whistle-blowers who exposed the scam
- » The Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh dates back to 2007, with investigations in the case starting after some details came to light in 2013.
- » It has been alleged by the Congress as well as several social activists that the officials took money to compromise the examination and recruitment.
- » It is also known as the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam.
- »Editorial:>The Vyapam scam trail
- » Congress leaders openly accused MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife of being involved in the scam. Later, they submitted the "original evidence".
- » Earlier this year, Chief Minister Chouhan claimed in a >letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi that the developments regarding the Vyapam scam provided proof of his honesty as he was the one who ordered a probe into it.
- »> Here are five things you need to know about Vyapam Scam.
College dean found dead
Dr. Arun Sharma, the dean of a Jabalpur-based medical college was found dead.
A journalist died soon after interviewing the parents of a girl who was accused in the scam and had died in suspicious circumstances.
The Madhya Pradesh govt. rejected a demand for CBI probe.
Another Vyapam scam accused dies in MP
Narendra Singh Tomar died under mysterious circumstances in an Indore jail.
FIR against M.P. Governor quashed
High Court held that he enjoyed immunity while in office.
Governor's son found dead
Shailesh Yadav, one of the accused in the scam, was found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav's involvement
The Special Task Force probed the alleged involvement of Governor Ram Naresh Yadav.
He was found dead at his home in Lucknow in March. He was accused of taking money to help 10 candidates from Bhind clear the examination for contractual teachers.
Dean of Jabalpur Medical College, who was also allegedly linked to the scam, died of burns under suspicious circumstances
Akshay Singh, who worked for TV Today group, fell ill and died soon after interviewing parents of a girl who was an accused and had herself died in suspicious circumstances.
Media reports said he was probing fake examinees in the Vyapam Scam. He was found dead in a hotel in Delhi.