2 elections, 3 govts since Vyapam, but hardly a dent on the system

Around nine years have passed since the ‘Vyapam Scam’ was unearthed in Madhya Pradesh by a group of whistleblowers using the Right To Information (RTI) Act, that exposed a strong nexus between politicians, government officials and middlemen in 2013, but nothing seems to have changed in the political realm of the state.

Over a dozen teams of CBI which were probing the case for three years simultaneously investigated the long trail of mysterious deaths.

Since the scam came to the fore, the state has witnessed two Assembly elections — in 2015 and 2018 –, while the third is scheduled for November 2023, just 14 months away.

Notably, though the scam broke out during the second tenure of the BJP-led Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, the party managed to win 2013 Assembly polls. The Congress formed its government in 2018, but it collapsed within 15 months paving the way for the BJP to storm back into power in 2020. Shivraj Singh Chouhan became the chief minister for the fourth time.

The only thing that has changed since the massive irregularities and forgery in conducting exams and recruitments of state government employees were exposed, is the name of the organisation ‘Vyapam’ – it was renamed in 2015 as Professional Examination Board (PEB), which was rechristened in 2022 and now it is known as the Staff Selection Board.

However, the credibility of the changed name Board is still being questioned in the wake of a fresh incident of alleged irregularities on Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) and once again the fingers are raised at a senior bureaucrat, who is an OSD of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Interestingly, the same whistleblower Anand Rai, who’s RTI quarries had exposed Vyapam scam, made allegations on CM’s OSD, but he paid a price for it as he was suspended from his service.

Chronology of Vyapam Scam :

While the complaints alleging irregularities in conducting the exams first surfaced in 2001, audit report findings in 2007 pointed to a nexus, and the scam blew over in 2013.

2007 : Audit office found financial and administrative irregularities in Vyapam.

2009 : Activist and doctor from Indore Anand Rai filed a public interest litigation (PIL) with the MP High Court, alleging foul play in the recruitments and admissions.

2011 : Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan set up an inquiry committee to look into the matter.

2013 : Anand Rai made startling revelations that led to a series of arrests. State Police arrested 20 persons who were to impersonate candidates scheduled for the Vyapam exam. The kingpin of the racket, Jagdish Sagar, was arrested. Exam controller Pankaj Trivedi was arrested and removed from his post.

2014 : The MP High Court rejected the demand for a CBI probe by the Congress and other parties. In April, 27, students from MGM Institute of Health Sciences were expelled for fraudulently clearing the medical test back in 2012.

2015 : Matter reached the Supreme Court and the case was transferred to CBI for further investigation.

CBI’s investigation revealed how the nexus worked.

Satish Dinkar, a senior Public Prosecutor, who represents the Central agency, told IANS about the modus-operandi of well planned corruption by a long nexus.

Impersonation : During the exams, all the information of the candidate remained the same, except for the photograph. The candidate’s photograph was replaced by that of the impersonator and after the exam, it was changed back to the original.

Engine and bogie system : A person was strategically made to sit in front of the candidate in question. The person let them copy from his sheet or exchanged the sheet with them at the end of the exam.

OMR sheets : The candidates in question were asked to leave their answer sheets blank and were given high marks in the exam.

“They manipulated and executed their plans in a well organised way. They (officials who were part of Vyapam) worked during the night and even on holidays, but failed to manage OMR sheets. They failed to change serial numbers of OMR sheets,” Satish Dinkar said.




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