Over 40 dead in 2 years: The mysterious deaths in Madhya Pradesh's Vyapam scam have a sinister edge // Is Shivraj Chouhan's govt in Madhya Pradesh getting away with murder?

The Vyapam scam or the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) Scam is known as India’s most notorious scam for one main reason – 40 people associated with the scam have died since the story broke in 2013. The deaths include both accused and witnesses and have largely been under mysterious circumstances. As two more accused died within 24 hours of each other on Sunday, the death toll has risen to over 40. Meanwhile MP Home Minister Babulal Gaur refused a CBI probe into Vyapam scam deaths. He added that there was no conspiracy, and that the deaths were natural. They may have died because of their own misdeeds, he told CNN IBN.

While investigations are underway, here is all you need to know about the Vyapam Scam and its mysterious deaths.

What is the Vyapam Scam?
The scam was all about the manipulation in the selection process for government colleges and jobs conducted by the Madhya Pradesh professional examination board (MPPEB) or Madhya Pradesh Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam). It involved the impersonation of candidates, rampant copying, blank answer sheets and fake marks.

What did the investigation reveal?
Earlier this year, a report by the high court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) probing the MPPEB (Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board) scam revealed that another 32 people, all aged between 25 and 30, have died under suspicious circumstances since the probe began in 2012, according to a report by the Times of India. Initial reports suggested that about eight accused had died in strange circumstances by May 2915. However, a report by the high court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) probing the scam revealed that another 32 people, all aged between 25 and 30, have died under suspicious circumstances since the probe began in 2012, continues the report.

Which are the most mysterious deaths?

1. Shailesh Yadav – He was the son of MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav and was one of the accused in the Vyapam scam. He was found dead at his residence, the Governor’s bungalow in Lucknow in March 2015. According to an Indian Express report, the 50-year old’s family members claimed that he was was diabetic and died of brain haemorrhage. They did not share the exact time of his death, maintaining that they came to know about it around 6 am when he did not get up. However, a Times of India report mentions that he died due to poisoning. But the post-mortem report says that cause of death could not be ascertained.

2. Vijay Singh – Another accused, Singh was found dead under mysterious circumstances at a lodge in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district in April 2015. He was a resident of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh and posted as pharmacist at Shajapur District Jail. Singh had been under suspension after the Special Task Force (STF) arrested him in three cases related the MPPEB scam. but was later cleared in one case. He had been released on bail in February this year. Singh's brother had demanded a probe into the mysterious death. "Vijay Singh's body was found at a local lodge in Kanker on 28 April. No poisonous substance was found inside the room," his brother Abhay Singh, a government school teacher, had told PTI.

3. Namrata Damor – Damor was a student of MGM Medical college, Indore, was found near railway tracks at Kayta village in Ujjain on 7 January, 2012, a week after she was reported mysteriously missing from the college hostel, according to a Times of India report. She was in the list of suspects who cleared PMT-2010 using unfair means.

4. Dr DK Sakalley – He was the dean of Netaji Subhashchandra Bose Medical College of Jabalpur and died in July 2014, succumbing to burns during a 30-day medical leave to avoid pressure from students who were sacked for their alleged role in MPPEB scam, says another report by The Times of India.

5. Ramendra Singh Bhadoria – The 30-year old was found hanging at his home in Gwalior a few days after an FIR was registered in January 2015. His family members claimed he was being mentally tortured by those involved in the MPPEB scam to keep quiet. His mother also committed suicide by consuming acid a week later, as per a Times of India report.

6. Narendra Singh Tomar – This death was what brought the Vyapam scam back in the limelight in June 2015 after another accused in the high-profile MPPEB scam died under mysterious circumstances in an Indore jail. The 29-year-old veterinarian complained of chest pain at night and was rushed to Maharaja Yashwant Rao Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

7. Dr Rajendra Arya – The 40-year old died within 24 hours of Tomar’s death at Birla Hospital in Gwalior. He had been on bail for one year, had gone to Kota and was returning when his condition turned critical.

Other scam accused declared dead in the SIT report among others as per The Times of India are –

8. Anshul Sanchan
9. Anuj Pandey
10. Vikram Singh
11. Arvind Shakya
12. Kuldeep Maravi
13. Anantram Tagore
14. Ashutosh Tiwari
15. Gyan Singh (Bhind)
16. Pramod Sharma (Bhind)
17. Vikas Pandey (Allahabad)
18. Vikas Thakur (Barwani)
19. Shyamveer Singh Yadav
20. Aditya Chaudhary
21. Deepak Jain (Shivpuri)
22. Gyan Singh (Gwalior)
23. Brijesh Rajput (Barwani)
24. Narendra Rajput (Jhansi)
25. Anand Singh Yadav (Fatehpur)
26. Anirudh Uikey (Mandla)
27. Lalit Kumar Pashupatinath Jaiswal
28. Ragvendra Singh (Singrauli)
29. Anand Singh (Barwani)
30. Manish Kumar Samadia (Jhansi)
31. Dinesh Jatav
32. Gyan Singh (Sagar)

Not much is known about the deaths of the other accused except that most of them happened Chambal area covering Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

  • Most deaths have occurred in either police custody or while the accused were out on bail.
  • While the STF has told the court that the number of unnatural deaths was 23 (excluding the two of Sunday) the state Home minister, Babulal Gaur claimed on Monday that most deaths were 'natural'.
  • The head of the SIT had put the deaths since the scam broke at 40. The scam is perhaps of the highest magnitude in the state in terms of arrests made, deaths recorded and money involved - various estimates put the figure at over Rs 2,000 crore.
  • The Prime Minister who rode to power on a promise of corruption-free governance has opted to keep quiet on the issue as some RSS functionaries have also been named in the case.
  • Estimates vary on the progress the STF has made to uncover the scam so far. While former advocate general of the state Vivek Tankha quotes some to suggest it is 20 percent of the scam, digital forensic expert Prashant Pandey claims only five percent of irregularities have been exposed so far.
  • Pandey, a whistleblower in this case, has been given security on the directives of Delhi High Court after he expressed fear for his life from the "high and mighty" in state government and police. Pandey, hails from Indore but has been living in Delhi with his family.
  • Strangely, the STF has not announced any inquiry into the 25 unnatural deaths so far. The High Court that is monitoring the investigations has upbraided the STF for delaying the investigations.
  • The Vyapam scam involves selection of candidates for and various state services like police, excise, revenue and teachers, between 2007 and 2013 to an estimated 140,000 posts. It also involves thousands of illegal admissions in graduate and post-graduate medical and dental colleges.


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