The Vyapam scam claimed another victim on Sunday with Arun Sharma, Dean of the Jabalpur-based Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Medical College, being found dead in a Delhi hotel. He was said to be compiling a list of students who gained admission illegally.
Notwithstanding pressure over the growing number of unexplained deaths of accused persons and witnesses, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan insisted on Sunday that he could not recommend a CBI inquiry into the case.
‘Not above judiciary’
“My government is not above the judiciary. When the High Court has refused a CBI inquiry, how can we order it?” the Chief Minister said.
Mr. Chouhan said a special investigation team was probing the scam under the supervision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and ordering an investigation by any other agency was the prerogative of the court.
He insisted that no other case in the country had been investigated as closely as Vyapam had been till date.
“The moment the HC decided to monitor it, that very day the State government’s role ended. When the probe is being carried out under court monitoring, the State government cannot be above the court or the Supreme Court,” he said.
In the latest deaths associated with the scam, Akshay Singh, a TV reporter from Delhi, had a sudden heart attack on Saturday while reporting on the scam. He had just concluded an interview with the parents of one of the accused who died in suspicious circumstances in 2012.
On Sunday morning, Dr. Arun Sharma was found dead in Uppal Hotel in Delhi. His death comes exactly a year after his predecessor, D.K. Sakalley, died of burns at home. Both were said to be compiling a list of students who had gained admission illegally.
The police said that there were no visible injuries on Dr. Sharma’s body and that prima facie it appeared to be a natural death. In Bhopal, the speculation was that it was a case of suicide.
Chouhan agrees to send Singh’s viscera to AIIMS for forensic tests
As the repercussions of the growing number of unexplained deaths related to the Vyapam scam grow, Mr. Chouhan agreed on Sunday to send the viscera samples of journalist Akshay Singh to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for examination.
Mr. Chouhan was responding to a request from the India Today group whose journalist Singh died in mysterious circumstances on Saturday while reporting on the scam.
Mr. Chouhan now seems to be facing pressure from within his party. On Saturday, his closest rival in Madhya Pradesh, Kailash Vijayvargiya, conducted a large rally in Bhopal apparently to celebrate his appointment as BJP national secretary. Party insiders however, read it as a show of strength and a subtle attempt to increase the pressure on the Chief Minister.
Mr Chouhan, who addressed a press conference on Sunday, said that every death in the case was unfortunate and all of them should be probed. He said he had written to the special investigation team monitoring the probe to look into the sudden death of the journalist. He said, however, that his State government had no role in the investigation in the Vyapam scam since the High Court started monitoring the probe.
- » 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.
Corrections and Clarifications:
The article has been edited for a factual error.