'The big fish are still out there and people will continue to die till they are brought to justice.'
With Madhya Pradesh about to face an assembly election, one in which the opposition Congress party is making a determined effort to eject the Bharatiya Janata Party from power after 15 years in office, the Vyapam scam has once again been revived.
'Vyapam' is the Hindi acronym for the Madhya Pradesh professional examination board, and scam involved getting professionals to appear for examinations while the real candidates sat at home.
Not exactly a novel idea, if you realise that Bollywood director Rajkumar Hirani made a blockbuster out of the idea with Munnabhai MBBS, in which a qualified doctor appears for the thuggish Sanjay Dutt character. The Vyapam scam involved officials and politicians on a large scale to facilitate the fraud, in return for bribes.
The Vyapam scam surfaced in July 2013 when the police arrested 20 impersonators who were appearing for the exams. Since then, officially 16 persons linked to this scam have died, causing eyebrows to be raised; unofficially, according to whistle-blowers, more than 60 people involved in this scam have died.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which took over the case two years ago, has booked more than 1,000 people in the scam, taking the total number to 3,800 in 170 different cases.
The scandal has been around for more than five years, and shows no signs of going away. The Congress has linked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to the scam, but he has refused to rise to the bait so far in his election speeches.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh recently upped the ante when he filed a case against Chouhan and others, accusing them of tampering with a hard disk which contained information that incriminated the chief minister.
"Neither the CBI nor a single journalist can uncover the entire mess called the Vyapam scam," Dr Anand Rai, who works for the MP government and is one of the whistle-blowers in the scam, tells Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar.
What is this about some hard disk that is supposed to have been erased to protect the chief minister?
Nitin Mahendra was a programmer in Vyapam. His computer and hard disk were seized by the CBI. This hard disk had various Excel sheets with names and amounts of money paid.
One of the sheets allegedly had the chief minister's name. This data was copied by a policeman, Prashant Pande.
The CBI transferred the data from this hard disk to another hard disk and the original hard disk was destroyed. (But) In the new hard disk the particular Excel sheet with the name of the CM was erased.
Prashant Pande is now in Delhi. He has turned whistle-blower and said he had a copy of the original hard disk data with the CM's name on it.
Digvijaya Singh went to the Supreme Court with this, but his petition was dismissed as the authenticity of the data was suspect.
It was a technical issue and people can keep arguing till eternity about the authenticity of any data found in the cyber world.
My petition is also pending in the Supreme Court, let's see what happens.
What about students who say they are victims of conmen and that they are innocent?
That is all nonsense. The students tried to enter medical college without appearing for the entrance exams. It is a crime and they have to pay for it.
The CBI says that the 16 Vyapam related deaths that they have investigated, all are natural deaths and there is nothing suspicious about them.
That is humbug, more than 60 people have died and they must investigate all of them, they are going slow.
The Vyapam matrix has taken numerous lives and thousands of students are now under the scanner. This includes those who have passed and are now working as doctors.
When will we know the truth behind the Vyapam scam?
Neither the CBI nor a single journalist can uncover the entire mess called the Vyapam scam. It requires years of investigation by an honest team of cops and only then will the kingpins be caught.
Now they have arrested the small fry and also charge-sheeted them.
The big fish are still out there and people will continue to die till they are brought to justice.