What is Vyapam? Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), also known by its Hindi name Madhya Pradesh Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam) is a self-financed and an autonomous body incorporated by the State government. It is entrusted with the responsibility to conduct large-scale competitive tests for admission to various professional courses and for recruitment to government jobs.
1. The Vyapam scam was a massive admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh.
2. In the year 2013, a major scam was unearthed involving several officials and politicians. The kingpin of the impersonation racket Dr. Jagdish Sagar was arrested and subsequently several other influential people were arrested including ex-Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma, MPPEB’s exam controller Pankaj Trivedi, MPPEB’s system analysts Nitin Mahendra and Ajay Sen and state PMT’s examination in-charge C. K. Mishra.
3. The credit for exposing the scam goes to Indore-based medical practitioner Dr. Anand Rai.
4. It is one of the biggest scams to rock the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Special Task Force of Madhya Pradesh police under the supervision of High Court was conducting the investigation earlier but now the probe has been handed over to the CBI after Supreme Court orders.
Thousands of undeserving candidates bribed politicians and MPPEB officials, through middlemen, to get high ranks in the entrance tests or secure jobs. Many of those who discovered these sordid facts — whistleblowers and journalists responsible for unearthing the details — have died in a spate of suspicious incidents. The three main whistleblowers — social activists Dr Anand Rai and Ashish Chaturvedi, and IT consultant Prashant Pandey — have been receiving death threats.
According to the whistleblowers, the following tricks were used by those involved in the scam:
i. All the information of the candidate remained the same, except the photograph. The candidate’s photograph was replaced by that of the impersonator and after the exam, it was changed back to the original. Obviously, the impersonators were brilliant students and they received huge sums to keep their mouths shut.
ii. 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.
iii. The candidates in question were asked to leave their answer sheets blank and were given high marks in the exam. Or they were supplied with solved OMR sheets before they took the exam.
While complaints against irregularities came trickling in from the mid-2000s, the Vyapam issue turned murkier from 2007-08 onwards. However, it was only in 2013 that the lid was blown.
The Opposition claims that over 77 lakh candidates have paid bribes to secure seats and jobs. Here’s how it all began:
2007: This was the year when the scent of a scam was sniffed. The MP Local Fund 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 enquiry committee to look into the matter.
2013: Anand Rai made startling revelations that led to a series of arrests. On the intervening night of July 6 and 7, the police arrested 20 persons who were to impersonate candidates scheduled to appear on July 7 for the MPPEB. On July 12-13, the kingpin of the racket, Jagdish Sagar, was arrested. A list confiscated from him revealed the names of 317 candidates. MPPEB’s exam controller, Pankaj Trivedi, who vouched for students who had fraudulently ‘answered’ the exam, sending letters to institution heads to accept them, was later arrested and removed from his post. A Special Task Force of the MP Police began handling the investigation. The Congress requested the High Court to conduct a CBI probe.
2014: The MP High Court rejected the demand for a CBI Inquiry 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: The accused, witnesses and investigators have been dropping like flies this year. So far, around 1,900 are in jail.
Now after all of this, the matter is under investigation. It has to go a long way and we have to wait and watch.