Mystery of Indian corruption-crime: Vyapam scandal as a death trap!


Mystery of Indian corruption-crime: Vyapam scandal as a death trap!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

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India remains a mystery land with unending corruption plus criminal cases and without being able to solve the perennial problem. More and more Indians seeking to become rich overnight opt for corrupt and deceptive means for achieving their goal.

With the privatization and liberalization policies, ostensibly to end corruption, India has handed its public properties over to private corporatist allies, opening up  its economy for corrupt  mafias. The disease of corruption spread like wildfire into all domains of the nation-society taking away the shares of poor and common people as custodians of public wealth has transfer of ownership from  the state into private bosses who seek maxim profits, imposed its own rules and unwritten laws.

After the infamous 2G scam promoted by Manmohan Singh’s Congress party, now the Vyapam scam, much worse than 2G, has hit the Indian TV media. Vyapam, in comparison, looks more like a veritable death-trap than a scam. Clearly, when politicians themselves are the criminals, it offers no hope, but evoke terror because in the end they are investigating themselves.

Cracking the mystery behind the serial deaths of people involved in the so-called Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh where BJP is ruling is perhaps the most complex whodunit in Indian history. That, more than 40 people, including alleged beneficiaries, perpetrators, investigators, witnesses and even journalists, died at regular intervals that too under the watch of a Special Task Force (STF) and a High Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), make a deadly story without precedence.

Apparently, everything Vyapam (Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board – MPPEB) did, whether it was recruiting people for government jobs or candidates for medical schools, had been rigged by a criminal syndicate of powerful politicians and officials. When politicians are involved in crime, they don’t easily give up because the stakes are so high and covering up is easy.

Although the Madhya Pradesh state home minister Babulal Gaur is certain that the deaths had nothing unnatural about it as the victims just “fell sick and died”, both the STF and the SIT have said that people had died under mysterious circumstances. The most unnatural was the death of a journalist, Akshay Singh, who died immediately after interviewing the father of a scam-beneficiary medical student who was found dead near a railway track three years ago. Reportedly, Singh had a glass of water and tea during the interview and began coughing and frothing at the mouth after half an hour. Based on the autopsy, police said he died of a heart attack. He was only 38. A day after, the dean of a medical college, who was assisting the STF was found dead in his hotel room, along with a lot of alcohol and some medicines, in Delhi. A week earlier, a much younger man, a 29-year-old accused in the case lodged in Indore jail, also died of a “heart attack”. Given the common thread of the scam that connects all the victims, it’s only fair to suspect planned murder that appeared as different forms of unnatural death. Most of the deaths are either “suicides” or caused by “road-accidents.”

What makes the Vyapam deaths more mysterious is that there is no common cause of unnatural fatality – suicide, poisoning, drowning, road accidents, murder and unexplained cardiac arrests.

Majority of the victims had been middlemen while most others were beneficiaries. A few of them, such as the Dean and Singh, were assisting the investigation. All of them were important for unraveling the conspiracy, its scale and the people behind it.  The fact that they have not been able to trace who is behind even one death is a failure of both the STF and the forensic experts.  That many of those arrested are reportedly naming people, already dead to mislead investigators, is a clear giveaway as to why these deaths are happening.

When the deaths mounted over the last three years, the STF should have read the writing on the wall and strengthened its intelligence machinery. It’s impossible to give protection to all as many people are involved and nobody knows how much has been unearthed.  However, given that some key operatives had been arrested, the investigators should have picked up trails that could have led them to the masterminds at large who are probably issuing the execution orders.

Similarly, it’s highly unlikely that the forensic authorities are well-equipped for the chemical examination of viscera and body tissues of the people who died of “heart attack”, alcohol-related illnesses and liver problems. For instance, heart attacks can be induced by a naturally occurring toxin called “cerberin” (found in a poisonous fruit) that’s extremely hard to detect even in state-of-the-art laboratories.

It is not clear if the forensic experts looked for these toxins in victims who appeared to have died of heart attacks and liver problems.

People, who are critical for investigating organised crime by politicians, getting killed or “committing suicide” during investigation is not uncommon in India. In the multi-crore core NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) scam in Uttar Pradesh, for which the Mayawati government was allegedly responsible, five senior medical officers and a clerk died during investigation – three were murdered, one was found dead, one was killed in a “road-accident”, while one “shot himself” dead. Strangely, family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, an accused in one of the murders, later joined the BJP for safety. Similarly, Sadiq Batcha, a businessman who suddenly became rich and close associate of 2G accused and UPA’s telecom minister R Raja, was found hanging on the day he was to be questioned by the CBI to trace the 2G money trail.

The conspiracy behind Vyapam and the cover-up efforts seem to be more sinister than one can imagine. The alleged involvement of more than 100 politicians, including a former education minister of the BJP, the Governor, who incidentally lost his son to the scam, a large number of politicians, and the sheer magnitude of the organised crime will not allow for a straightforward investigation.

Now many leaders seek a CBI investigation under Supreme Court observation so that the truth is revealed. The MP Chief Minister is under tremendous pressure and instruction by the apex court to agree for a CBI probe. It appears the CM would quit sooner than later.

BJP’s arrogance and its disrespect for popular demands for probes have been fully exposed now. However, the Courts also need to probe the issue of IPL Lalit Modi and BJP leaders in wrong doings, if PM Modi still maintains silence.

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