Flashback 2015: Vyapam scam haunted Chouhan-led BJP govt in Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal, Dec 22: The Vyapam scam remained a hot-button issue in Madhya Pradesh during 2015, giving a tough time to Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and even resulting in the washout of the state assembly's budget session besides overshadowing the Monsoon session of Parliament.

Among other major incidents was the tragic death of 89 people and injuries to nearly 100 when mining explosives stored in a building at a public place went off in Petlawad town in Jhabua district on September 12.

Madhya Pradesh

The impact of the blasts was so immense that body parts of victims flew off to 100-200 metre. But the one issue that remained in the news throughout the year was the Vyapam scam.

It became a national issue with Opposition parties gunning for Chouhan, seeking his removal. The issue got murkier by the day with a number people related to the scam found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who created a record by becoming the first non-Congress Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh to complete 10 years in office on November 29, a feat earlier held by Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh, found himself in the dock over the massive admission and recruitment irregularities in the MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), popularly known by its Hindi acronym 'Vyapam' or Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal.

Earlier averse to handing over the investigation into the scam to the CBI saying that the MP Special Task Force (STF) was doing a good job, Chouhan had to give in to public outcry and Opposition's frequent barbs as he requested the Supreme Court to hand over the probe to the central agency.

The year started on a bad note for Chouhan with AAP staging protests demanding that he should vacate one of the two official bungalows he was occupying in the state capital. Days later, the Vyapam scam took a bloody turn when the body of Ramendra Singh Bhadoria, a student of government Garja Raja Medical College, Gwalior (GRMCG) and an accused, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his home at Khanchmil Mohalla on January 8.

His face was found covered with a pillow and his neck stifled with TV cable wire. Shaken by his death, Bhadoria's mother Kusma Devi ended her life too, five days later. On January 17, another student of GRMCG and accused in Vyapam scam, was found dead under a bridge under mysterious condition in Morena district.

Congress was quick to target Chouhan with its leaders Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia addressing a press conference here and alleging that the evidence on which the STF was investigating the recruitment racket had been tampered with.

They also demanded resignation of Chouhan. The Congress leaders demanded that the investigation be handed over to the CBI for a fair probe.

 In February, the Vyapam fire engulfed the Raj Bhawan too when Governor Ramnaresh Yadav's son Shailesh was booked in connection with the scam.

A fortnight later, the STF booked the Governor. In the first week of March, beleaguered Ramnaresh Yadav filed a petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court for quashing the FIR against him saying that he enjoys immunity against criminal prosecution by virtue of being the governor.

But in the last week of March, Shailesh was found dead in Lucknow under mysterious conditions. On April 18, Governor Yadav, however, got a reprieve when the high court stayed the FIR against him and asked the prosecuting agency not to take any "coercive action" against him.

Then on May 6, the high court quashed the FIR holding that Yadav enjoyed immunity while in office according to the Constitution. In June, Ravindra Pratap Singh, another accused in the scam died in Singrauli district after reportedly consuming poison. This was not the end as three persons died within 72 hours in July.

Akashay Singh, (38), a Hindi news channel reporter covering the scam died after falling ill in Jhabua on July 4. A day later, Jabalpur Medical College dean Arun Sharma, said to be assisting investigation into the scam, was found dead in a hotel room in New Delhi under suspicious condition.

Then on July 6, a woman trainee sub inspector Anamika Kushwaha was found dead in a lake at MP's Sagar district amid alleged reports that she was recruited by a test conducted by Vyapam.

Finally, Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into the scam and alleged deaths related to it and also issued notice to the Centre, Madhya Pradesh Government and the Governor Yadav on a plea seeking his removal over his alleged involvement in the scandal, on July 9.

Besides, the state was rattled by two train accidents in which at least 25 passengers were killed and many injured on August 5 at Harda district.

The BJP tasted defeat in the Ratlam Loy Sabha seat by-poll in November with its candidate Nirmala Bhuria losing to former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria of Congress by a margin of more than 88,000 votes.

The Ratlam by-poll result was a huge setback for Chouhan as he had left no stone unturned to win the seat. He had addressed 52 election meetings and camped for almost one week in the constituency but to no avail.

In the last major happening in the state, NGOs working for the survivors of Bhopal Gas Tragedy took out huge rallies and protested on the roads of the state capital on December 2-3 alleging that the Centre and the state government have failed to mitigate the pain of world's worst industrial disaster survivors who are still writhing in pain even after 32 years.


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