Bhopal: Botched up investigation, massive cover-ups and mysterious deaths with no one to blame have snowballed the multi-crore Vyapam scam into a national controversy.
The scam has rocked the Madhya Pradesh government and put pressure on its Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been constant scrutiny from the Opposition over recent deaths.
Skeletons are stumbling out of the closet, bringing to limelight the grim lawless situation in the state.
In a latest development, the death of a 19-year-old medical student linked to the Vyapam scam, which was earlier dismissed as a suicide, is back into focus after the death of TV journalist, Akshay Singh who died soon after interviewing her father.
According to a report by NDTV, Namrata Damor, an accused in the scam was found dead on railway tracks in Ujjain in January 2012. Namrata is believed to have secured admission illegally.
In its closure report in 2014, the police called the death as suicide.
However, there are demands for a re-investigation now, as the autopsy report states that she had been strangled.
According to the report, Namrata died of ‘violent asphyxia as a result of smothering’.
Journalist Akshay Singh, who was speaking to Namrata’s father at her home in Jhabua, passed away after suddenly frothing from the mouth. Initially, police claimed he died due to a heart attack, however, after pressure from his family, the viscera samples are being examined by Delhi’s AIIMS hospital.
Indian journalists hold candles and a photograph of Akshay Singh during a memorial meeting in Bangalore, India, Monday, July 6, 2015. (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, the family of 25-year-old trainee sub-inspector Anamika Sikarwar, whose body was found in a lake adjacent to the Police Training Academy in Madhya Pradesh, refuted claims that she had committed suicide.
According to them, she couldn’t have drowned because she was an excellent swimmer.
“My sister couldn’t have committed suicide. She was a national-level volleyball player and also a swimmer,” Anamika’s sister, Ranjana Khushwaha was quoted to have said to Mail Today.
Sikarwar was selected as a sub-inspector in an exam that was conducted through Vyapam, but the police said her selection had nothing to do with the Vyapam scam and she was not a suspected beneficiary.
The training academy of the Madhya Pradesh Police has also claimed that Anamika was ‘under stress’.
The state police also came up with a theory that Anamika committed suicide because of her in-laws who demanded dowry from her.
However, her husband Ravi Sikarwar said that he had a cordial relationship with his wife and spoke to her till 2 am on July 5.
A day ago, the Madhya Pradesh Police denied that 35-year-old constable whose body was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his home in Tikamgarh was linked the Vyapam scam.
No suicide note was found from the spot, according to police.
On Monday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that all deaths shouldn’t be linked to the Vyapam scam.
However, on Tuesday succumbing to pressure, he requested the state’s High Court for a CBI probe.
The Congress has alleged that Chouhan cannot “escape responsibility for 45 deaths” of people who had some connection with the case.
The main whistleblower in the Vyapam case, Ashish Chaturvedi, claimed that there was a ‘grave threat’ to his life and accused Chouhan of being ‘directly involved’ in the scam, a charge that was rubbished by the CM.
The Opposition has, so far, linked nearly 45 deaths to the scam. One set of Excel sheets related to the scam that have remained controversial have the names of candidates, their roll numbers, and their references — ranging from “CM”, “CM’s residence”, “Uma Bharati” and “Governor”, among others.