Question mark over key Vyapam data in damaged laptop seized in 2013

A laptop seized by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Madhya Pradesh police back in 2013 is going to play a crucial role in the Vyapam scam. However, the concern is whether the damaged laptop will be functional when it would be produced in the court.

The basis of the whole Vyapam case is an excel sheet recovered from the computer of Nitin Mahendra, an employee of Vyapam, who is one of the main accused in the case. He was the lynchpin of the scam along with the director and controller of exams – Pankaj Trivedi.

Seizing that laptop then was itself a story, which also raised questions on the STF’s investigation in the Vyapam case. Mahendra’s laptop was recovered in a damaged condition, and that too after much hue and cry from the whistleblowers who exposed this scam. Later, the hard disc of that laptop was sent to the Forensic Laboratory in Gujarat.

“It is of concern whether that laptop and its hard disc would be functional whenever it is presented in the court. Not only the laptop but many other technical devices that were seized as evidence are crucial for the case,” said a reliable source on condition of anonymity.

That is the reason the STF’s role was questioned and a CBI inquiry was demanded to investigate the matter. The Supreme Court in 2015 ordered handing over of the case to the CBI. The scam involves forgery, impersonation, bribery, cheating and misuse of office. It is more shocking as the scam involves the governor offices, chief minister’s office, ministers, senior and junior bureaucrats, middlemen and candidates who appeared in the exams.

The scam involved as many as 13 different exams conducted by the Vyavsayik Siksha Mandal (Vyapam) for selection of medical students and state government employees, such as food inspectors, transport constables, police personnel, school teachers, dairy supply officers, forest guards and others.

The exams were taken by around 3.2 million students each year, many of whom were actually paid proxies for other undeserving students. It also included an “engine-bogie” system wherein seating arrangements were manipulated so that a paid smarter student was seated between two others to allow the latter to copy answers from the former.

“They (accused) did all things smartly, but they were caught because of tinkering in OMR sheets. In many cases, the final result sheets were manipulated directly also. Investigation revealed that tinkering or manipulation on OMR sheets was done secretly at night,” reliable sources told IANS.

As per reports, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had then admitted in the state assembly that there were at least 1000 cases of forgery, false identity in 1,47,000 recruitments made by the state government since 2007.

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