Mumbai: He has allegedly been threatened ten times – the last was a chilling message that he would be “cut to pieces” – but Vyapam whistleblower Ashish Chaturvedi will remain firm on the job.
“Even if I die, I want to name the big fish – starting with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” Chaturvedi told the NDTV.
26-year-old Chaturvedi is among four key whistleblowers that have brought the Vyapam scam under public scrutiny. A local court recently ordered the Madhya Pradesh police to give him security for the rest of his life. “I will be the next mysterious death,” he told the television.
For those who are wondering what the ‘Vyapam’ scam is all about, it involved massive irregularities and corruption in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or MP Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal, abbreviated in Hindi as Vyapam.
It all started after the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High court in July 2013 served notices to Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Department (MPMED), Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) and Medical Council of India (MCI).
The notices were served after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by parents of some students who appeared in the state Pre-Medical Test (PMT) which claimed more than 300 ineligible candidates managed to get into merit list.
The case involves cheating, forgery, bribery and misuse of office by the authorities in charge of the institutional bodies to make sure things go smooth. The Special Task Force (STF) investigating the scam has arrested more than 1,400 — most of them young students and their parents.
This Saturday, journalist Akshay Singh, who has been reporting the scam, died after beginning to froth in the mouth during an interview. “I spoke to him just two hours before that,” Chaturvedi told NDTV, “he was collecting evidence to expose powerful people. His death is suspicious.”
On Sunday, the dead body of MP medical college dead Arun Sharma was discovered in a plush hotel in Delhi. Sharma reportedly was furnishing evidence about students and who they bribed to the police.
This “killer scam” is now a national controversy with Opposition Congress demanding a CBI probe. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has, however, rejected the demand stating the ongoing SIT probe was enough. The investigation is being supervised by the Jabalpur High Court.
“When I went to give important information to an official, he told me, ‘This whole well is laced with bhaang (intoxicant). If you too drink from it, you can also enjoy the high’,” Chaturvedi told NDTV. He said politicians from both Congress and BJP were involved in the Vyapam scam.