Vyapam scam probe better under CBI: Many accused were let off the hook as STF overlooked irregularities

The CBI has got off to a brisk start in the Vyapam probe and the difference in investigation between the state police’s Special Task Force and that of the central agency is visible already.

Chandrakant Naidu July 17, 2015 11:52:04 IST
Vyapam scam probe better under CBI: Many accused were let off the hook as STF overlooked irregularities

The CBI has got off to a brisk start in the Vyapam probe and the difference in investigation between the state police’s Special Task Force and that of the central agency is visible already.

On Thursday the BJP was forced to suspend Gulab Singh Kirar -- a clansman and close confidant of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan -- who has been absconding for a year. Kirar, whom the Special Task Force (STF) could not locate even while he shared the dais with Chouhan, enjoyed the status of a minister of state as member of the state Backward Classes and Minorities Commission. He continued to hold the post till Thursday night even as an absconder.

The CBI had on Wednesday registered FIRs in two cases related to rigging of examinations, naming among others Kirar and his son Shakti Pratap Singh. Kirar senior has been charged with getting his son admitted to post-graduation course in medicine by paying Rs 30 lakh while Kirar junior allegedly used fraudulent means to get admitted in the PG course. Kirar had even appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) monitoring the STF investigations on the directives of the state High Court but escaped the STF’s eyes.

Vyapam scam probe better under CBI Many accused were let off the hook as STF overlooked irregularities

Representative image. Courtesy: News18

The CBI was off to a brisk start since taking charge of the investigations from the state police (STF) early this week. Investigations suddenly came of age as the central agency filed five FIRs against 160 persons fast tracking the proceedings. The CBI has also asked for the documents related to the deaths related to the scam. Superintendents of Police in Ujjain, Gwalior, Indore and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Kanker in Chhattisgarh have been asked to provide records relating to the deaths of Namrata Damore, Vijay Patel, Rajendra Arya, Akshay Singh and Deepak Verma. Damore was allegedly gagged to death but her death was passed off as suicide and journalist Askhay Singh who had come to investigate Damore’s death died mysteriously while sipping tea.

Besides the Kirar duo other key accused named in the five FIRs are: Sudhir Bhadauria, the former controller of examination and a close associate of key accused and financier of the Sangh Parivar, Sudhir Sharma; Pankaj Trivedi, Bhadauria’s successor as controller of examinations who allegedly manipulated the OMR sheets to help many candidates pass the examinations fraudulently; Rashmi Parihar, accused of passing pre-PG examinations through fraudulent means; Vir Bahadur Bhadauria who was part of the racket behind the examination fraud that operated in collusion with Sudhir Bhadauria; and BR Shrivastav, son-in-law of the former health minister Sheetla Sahay who got his daughter admitted fraudulently.

Joint Director RP Agrawal, who is leading the 40-member crack team, has promised transparency in investigations saying the agency will share the details with the media and won’t let the country down. The FIRs have been registered in connection with the Pre-Medical Test of 2010 and the pre-PG Examination 2011.

However odious they might seem, comparisons are bound to be there between the probes conducted by the CBI and STF. Though it was monitored by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court the STF had its say in vital cases. While the SIT wanted STF to file FIRs against Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati and former chairperson of Vyapam Ranjana Chaudhary, the latter refused quoting lack of evidence.

During interrogations of agents, Sudhir Bhadauria’s name had also emerged. SIT registered an FIR against Bhadoria but he was neither arrested nor questioned. On the contrary he went on to be the director of a prominent government institute of technology.

Bharti’s name appeared in the Excel Sheet extracted from the hard disk of accused chief systems analyst Nitin Mohindra. Former Controller Vyapam examinations Pankaj Trivedi had also mentioned her name in his recorded statements. Mahindra in his statements to STF had also corroborated that Trivedi had provided the list of candidates recommended by Bharati. However, STF did not question Bharti for two years. Former Director General of Police Nandan Dubey had visited Uma’s place to give her a clean chit setting off doubts about the independence of STF and credibility of its probe.

CBI’s stand on Chaudhary is being keenly watched as Pankaj Trivedi had claimed having given Rs 42 lakh to Chaudhary. STF, when pressurised by SIT over Trivedi’s statement, interrogated her but made her a prosecution witness.

The CBI registered its initial cases focussing on examinations held between 2009 and 2011 which the STF had not investigated. These examinations saw massive rigging. The STF chose to overlook irregularities in these examinations confining its probe to the PMTs in 2012 and 2013, the pre-PG (medical) examination in 2012 as well as other recruitment examinations in 2012 and 2013. This would let many key accused off the hook.

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