Dr Anand Rai, whose PIL in 2009 brought irregularities to light, says the scam runs deep
Prahlad Rao | July 22, 2015 | Indore
The Vyapam scam took place in Madhya Pradesh, but fraudsters involved in it are spread across states like Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh – making it necessary for an inter-state probe agency to step in, said Dr Anand Rai, the Indore-based ophthalmologist who was the first to expose the scandal in 2009.
“Academically strong students from different states were hand-picked by the perpetrators of the scam to impersonate candidates in examinations held by MPPEB. The scam runs deep and local agencies cannot explore its depths,” Dr Rai said, welcoming the apex court’s decision of July 9 to hand over the probe to CBI.
READ: Making sense of Vyapam scam
In an interview with Governance Now, Dr Rai said states like Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh had emerged as ‘mandis’ or shops for impersonators. They were hand-picked for their academic excellence. The agents paid these students '1.5 lakh to '2 lakh for impersonating the candidates and to appear in exams in their place. The agents charge 10 times these amounts from the candidates, he said.
The fraudsters used high-ranking officials and politicians to get their candidates selected. “OMR sheets were left blank and filled on a later date; seating arrangements in examination halls were fixed to help students copy answers,” he said, adding this could not have been done without collusion of officials.
“How can any government agency, run by bureaucrats and politicians involved in the scam, be neutral,” he asked.
Dr Rai had filed a PIL in the Madhya Pradesh high court in 2009 alleging foul play in recruitment and admissions. It took chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan four years to finally form a committee to look into the matter.
Vyapam: not just a fraud but an organised blow
In 2013, on a tip-off by the whistleblower, 20 impersonators were caught from Indore. This led to the arrest of the kingpin of the racket, Jagdish Sagar. He allegedly acted as the link between bureaucrats, politicians and candidates. Sagar coughed up the names of 317 candidates to the special task force (STF). But that was a small fraction of the defrauding candidates.
Dr Rai said he had been receiving threats from various quarters, including Sagar. “Sagar called me and warned against the media coverage of the scam due to my statements in 2013. He threatened to kill me,” the whistleblower said. “Four minutes after the first call, Sagar called again and told me not to share his phone number. It was this phone number that led to his arrest from a hotel in Mumbai.”
Despite many arrests, all links to the Vyapam scam have not been exposed, he said. The series of the deaths of people connected with the scam was an attempt to destroy these links. “Those arrested are also naming the dead as their contacts, thus breaking the chain of investigation,” Dr Rai said.
He clarified that, of course, not all deaths could be seen as part of the controversy. “But at least 10 such deaths raise suspicion,” he said, indicating use of poisons that leave no trace.
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