Madhya Pradesh mining baron Sudhir Sharma, one of whose three planes is said to be always at the disposal of political leaders, prominent doctor Vinod Bhandari, ips officer R.K. Shivhare and former education minister Laxmikant Shukla are among the 1,800 people in jail for what’s known as the Vyapam scam. And 300 more are yet to be arrested, the special investigation team of MP police admitted to the high court.
But Indore-based Dr Anand Rai, an ophthalmologist, is scathing when he speaks to Outlook. Both he and digital forensic expert Prashant Pandey claim that the “main culprits, kingpins, middlemen and beneficiaries” are still free. “What has been revealed is just five per cent of the scam,” Pandey had said in an interview to The Economic Times in February this year.
It was Rai’s 2009 PIL which finally prompted the Madhya Pradesh High Court to order a special investigation in July 2013. “The chief minister keeps claiming that he unearthed the scam,” Rai fumes over the phone, “but for two-and-a-half years he stalled questions raised in the assembly though he was in charge of medical education.” Both Rai and Pandey believe Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife Sadhana, who worked as a secretary to late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan for several years, to be complicit in the Vyapamscam.
“The prime minister speaks of bringing back black money. Why doesn’t he initiate steps to stop generation of black money within the country first,” Rai asks. Private medical colleges, he alleges, generate up to Rs 40,000 crore in black money every year through medical admissions alone.
Forty-two per cent of the seats in these colleges, he claims, are reserved for NRIs. “Forty-three per cent are set aside for the management quota and only 15 per cent of the seats, around 300 in MP, are filled through general competitive tests every year.”
And the tests themselves are rigged. Three popular modes are used for this. Impersonators, usually doctors and medical students from other states, take the test, some of them impersonating examinees who have paid for the service. The second way is for chosen examinees to keep the answer sheets blank, which ‘experts’ outside then fill. The third is the ‘engine-and-bogey’ method in which the impersonator sits in the middle and allows examinees on his sides to copy answers.
But that is just the beginning. Rai alleges many general seats in private medical colleges are in fact filled up by these impersonators who surrender the seats within six months. They are then quietly filled up with candidates who pay hefty sums for the favour.
The racket extends to pre-engineering admission tests, other professional examinations conducted by Vyapam and all recruitment done by the state government other than those by the state public service commission.
Rai is rather surprised at the recent MP High Court ruling that Excel sheets produced by Digvijay Singh, allegedly furnished by Pandey, were forged. “How did MP police arrive at this conclusion without referring the sheets to forensic labs? And how did the court accept the conclusion without hearing Pandey first,” he wonders aloud.
Pandey told Outlook that he encrypted all the data he examined for the MP police and it’s not possible for others to open it without knowing the codes he had followed. “Whatever data I had have now been handed over to the Supreme Court so that I am no longer accused of ‘leaking’ sensitive information,” says the whistleblower on the run.