Bhopal/New Delhi: "Death is a natural occurrence. One who has been born will die," Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Babulal Gaur said on Monday, rejecting demands for a probe into the death of two accused in the MPPEB scam on Sunday.
He also dismissed opposition Congress' repeated calls for ordering a CBI investigation into the scandal, commonly known as Vyapam scam, claiming the ongoing probe ordered by the state's BJP government was proceeding "in the right direction".
"Death is natural...be it in the jail or on rail (train), one who has been born will die," he said when asked whether the government was contemplating ordering an inquiry into the death of a large number of accused and witnesses in the scam in mysterious circumstances.
On Sunday, two of the hundreds of accused in various Vyapam cases had died, adding yet another murky chapter to the scandal, taking the official death toll of the accused and witnesess to 25. The Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the cases had three days back submitted to the MP High Court that 23 persons allegedly involved in the scam had died unnatural deaths.
The Congress has, meanwhile, accused Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of a cover-up with its general secretary Digvijay Singh saying the party had lost faith in the HC-appointed SIT.
"More than 41 people who were accused have died mysteriously. But, unfortunately, the Chief minister is trying to cover up and we are fighting the battle in court."
"We have lost total faith in the SIT appointed by the honourable High Court. They themselves have conveyed their helplessness to guide the STF investigation. So we have no option but to go to Supreme Court," he said.
Congress spokesman Tom Vadakkan said deaths and the scam needed to be probed by an independent SIT under the direct supervision of the apex court.
The chorus for a probe into 'suspicious deaths' grew after two accused-- 40-year-old Dr Rajendra Arya died at Birla Hospital in Gwalior on Sunday and Narendra Singh Tomar (29), a veterinarian, passed away in an Indore hospital. Tomar was lodged in Indore jail.
The most high-profile death was that of Shailesh Yadav, son of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. Shailesh, 50, who was alleged to have fixed the recruitment of 10 candidates
as Grade III teachers, was found dead at his father's residence in Mall Avenue area on 25 March this year. When asked about Shailesh's death, Gaur said,"Be it the King or the pauper, all will die."
The MP Home Minister said the government had received no order from the High Court, monitoring the investigation being conducted by a Special Task Force under direct supervision of
an HC-appointed Special Investigation Team, to launch a probe into the deaths.
On Congress's repeated demands for a CBI probe, Gaur said, "The Supreme Court has already rejected honourable Digvijay Singh's appeal for it. The country's highest court has said the current investigation is proceeding in the right direction...so the question (of a CBI inquiry) does not arise," Gaur said.
Meanwhile, Prashant Pandey, who blew the whistle on the massive admission and recruitment scam, too demanded a CBI probe.
"There must be a CBI probe. It is not a coincident that all the accused are dying of one ailment or another. There is something more to it," he told PTI.
Pandey said he fears for his own life after his whistleblower act.
"There is a cover-up by the high and mighty in the state government. There has to be a probe by a third party which is independent of state's interference," he said.
Pandey, a digital forensics expert from Indore, has been provided a guard by the state police following the expose.
Chief of the SIT, Justice (Retd) Chandresh Bhushan refused to talk about action being taken following a string of deaths of people allegedly involved in the scam. "I cannot say anything on the phone," Bhushan told PTI when asked whether the SIT would take the cognizance of deaths of the accused and witnesses in the case.
The BJP defended the Chouhan government, with party spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao saying the High Court had expressed "complete trust" in the ongoing investigation.
"The Jabalpur HC had examined this matter several times and expressed complete trust in the investigation. The HC has constituted a Special Investigating team headed by a retired judge of High Court and there is a Special Task Force which is reporting to the SIT.
"It is one of the most robust investigations to get to the truth. Things like these will be certainly be taken cognizance of by the SIT," Rao said.
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Updated Date: Jul 01, 2015 18:30:07 IST