A condescending Shivraj Singh Chouhan has offered to hand the enquiry into the deaths of persons connected with the Vyapam scam to a special investigation team under high court’s supervision. However it falls way short of the Congress demand for a CBI inquiry. Is Chouhan stretching the issue to a breaking point?

The death of a media person from Delhi and that of another dean of Jabalpur medical college drew the national media’s attention and shook up the BJP central leadership. Exactly a year after the death of Dr DK Sakalle, the dean of Jabalpur medical college who was scrutinising the records of students who were admitted to the state medical colleges through fraudulent means, his successor Dr Arun Sharma was found dead in Delhi.

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Union finance minister Arun Jaitley suggested a “very fair inquiry” should be conducted to put to rest all doubts over the mysterious death of TV journalist Akshay Singh who had arrived to investigate the death of an examinee in the Jhabua region.

“Since various issues are being raised with respect to the circumstances of this death, it would be absolutely important that a very fair inquiry is held so that all doubts can be put to rest,” Jaitley said.

Union Home minister Rajnath Singh is also reported to have spoken to Chouhan and asked him to conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths. Is the Centre coming around to the idea of handing the matter to the CBI to avoid further embarrassment in the matter?

The Congress, stunned by the high court’s rejection of its proof of the chief minister’s involvement in the case, has already decided to move the Supreme Court against the ruling. Interestingly the government has not accepted former chief minister Digvijay Singh’s challenge to prosecute him if his contention was wrong.Shockingly Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to maintain a stony silence over the issue even when the national media was full of stories on the issue.

Congress spokesperson RPN Singh said, “It is very simple for the state government or Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh to write a letter for a CBI inquiry and the central government will act on it. It seems he has given tacit support to all these scams.”

How many more deaths would it take before the state and central government order a fair inquiry, the Congress asked.

The Congress is constantly raising doubts over the investigation conducted by the STF since the confidential reports of the investigation officers are written by the government. Though Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has frequently said he is not afraid of the probe, he has stubbornly resisted the demand for CBI inquiry.

Chouhan takes credit for starting the investigation into the scam two years ago following a report lodged by civil rights activist Anand Rai at Indore. The government transferred the investigation to the STF in Bhopal to keep a check on the direction it was headed in. Rai pointed out that officers with close links to the ruling party were associated with the investigation of the STF.

The Congress alleges that the “investigating agency has been undermining the majesty of justice and hoodwinking the High Court” by submitting flawed chargesheets to shield the chief minister and other ministers by tampering with the evidence while another accused, the higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma, has been in jail for over 16 months.

Though Chouhan claims credit for starting the investigation into the scam the investigation began two years ago following a report lodged by civil rights activist Anand Rai at Indore. The government transferred investigation to the STF Bhopal to keep a check on its direction. Rai had pointed out that officers with close links to the ruling party were suitably associated with the investigation of the STF.

Some members of the ruling party have also often questioned the logic behind the STF inquiry given several police officers are accused in the scam and many policemen having been recruited through the PEB. Scepticism grew as STF kept making selective leaks through the media and refused to go into the cases before 2012, claiming non-availability of earlier records.

The colossal scam involves politicians and senior government officials in admissions and recruitment. Over 1800 arrests have been made over the past couple of years. According to investigating agencies at least another 500 persons are still evading arrests. The STF has been accused of harassing innocent people and driving them to despair. Some deaths have been attributed to such pressure by the STF.

Governor Ram Naesh Yadav’s role came under the scanner after his Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Dhanraj Yadav was arrested for pushing some names in the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) to be cleared.

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Vyapam scam: Despite doubts over STF, CM Shivraj Chouhan continues to resist CBI probe