Retired officer linked to Vyapam found dead, Congress condemns (Roundup)

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Oct 17 (IANS) A retired IFS officer who acted as an observer in two Vyapam recruitment tests in Madhya Pradesh was found dead on a railway track in Jharsuguda in Odisha, police said on Saturday.

Reacting to the news, the Congress said it hoped that the “cycle of deaths does not resume”.

“We condemn this and hope and trust that the cycle of deaths does not resume again,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in Delhi on Saturday.

“There is a deep-seated, far-reaching, ‘vyapak’ (expansive) conspiracy in Vyapam and any self-respecting government should have resigned long ago, owning responsibility. It was only when compelled to do so, with great resistance, that they (state government) even agreed to a CBI inquiry,” he said.

Terming the Vyapam scam “shocking” and “unprecedented”, Singhvi said never in independent India’s history had one scam claimed so many lives in different states.

Retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Vijay Bahadur’s body was found on a track near Belpahar station under South-Eastern Railway’s Jharsuguda junction on Thursday. He was travelling to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh from Puri in Odisha with his wife, Nita Singh, by the Puri-Jodhpur Express.

Superintendent of Railway Police (Rourkela) Karam Sey Kawar told IANS over phone that prima facie Bahadur appeared to have accidentally fallen off the running train.

The official, however, said the actual cause of death would be known after a post-mortem report was available with the Government Railway Police.

“We are investigating the matter even though no first information report was filed by the family at our police station,” said Kawar, adding that the family had already taken the body after the autopsy.

Police sources said Nita Singh reported to the train ticket checker about her missing husband after reaching Raigarh station, about 70 km from Jharsuguda district.

Bahadur’s death is the first case of mysterious death related to Vyapam scam after the Supreme Court in July handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Over 40 accused or others connected with Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam) or the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam have died under mysterious circumstances so far.

Singhvi also raised questions about the drop in the number of deaths after the CBI took charge, saying something was “wrong in the earlier system”.

“After the CBI took charge under the Supreme Court orders, there was a dramatic drop (in deaths). That itself tells its own story. That itself raises new questions. Why this dramatic sudden drop? That means something was very very wrong in the system earlier,” he said.

The CBI has so far registered over 80 FIRs and launched over 10 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam.

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