Chouhan and Vyapam

Vijay Raman 2

Vijay Raman, a 64-year-old retired IPS officer hailing from Kerala, is a no-nonsense man. Olympian-turned-dacoit Paan Singh Tomar and Parliament attack mastermind Gazi Baba knew it better as they came on the “wrong side of the gun” of Raman’s team. Madhya Pradesh High Court also had no doubt in choosing him as one of the three members of SIT to probe Vyapam scam. I spoke to Raman.

When the SIT took up the Vyapam cases, there were some 55 cases. However, the figure has now increased.

Fifty-five cases were being monitored by the High Court when the SIT was formed. During investigations, new facts emerged. Now, when you interrogate someone and he tells you that this also happened, we thought it prudent to register independent cases rather than clubbing it. The number thus rose to 125.

There are so many deaths related to the scam. Do you think there was some sort of conspiracy in at least in some cases?

To say that all of them are related to Vyapam is erroneous. Not as SIT member but as a policeman, I will believe it (there could be conspiracy in some cases). Because the moment you are going closer to the mastermind, you would like to silence the person. That possibility I shall never ever rule out.

How many students got admission illegally?

A conservative figure may be a few thousand. By securing admissions, they have deprived genuine students of their opportunities. Figures keep on changing day by day. Arrests are happening every day. Every new arrest unravels few more names.

Vyapam scam has broken the trust people had on the system. Now they view young doctors/students with suspicion.

This (scam) is not a recent phenomenon. This blew up in 2013. Initially, Vyapam started with Pre-Medical Test and other professional entrance exams. Then in 2003, they opened it for recruitment. That is where all it started. Police Constables, jail wardens and forest officials were recruited through Vyapam. All those recruitment that has to be done through a public service commission exam came to Vyapam. It became a racket. People became aware of the money spinning capability of this institution. It all started with the connivance of some touts from outside and Vyapam officials from inside. You might have seen ‘Munnabhai MMBS’ and ‘Three Idiots’. Vyapam scam is a combination of both. I don’t know whether the movie inspired them or they inspired the movie.

Role of politicians have also come up in the scam. Do you think the big shots are still out?

Yes, some of them are still out. See, a scam of this magnitude cannot happen without the knowledge of a large number of people in power. Definitely, they have knowledge about it. But knowledge by itself does not constitute an offence. Being in the position in which they were and having the knowledge, not having acted is an administrative lapse. Again, it does not attract criminal liability. Many things need to be done on the administrative front also. I don’t know whether the Chief Minister (Shivraj Singh Chouhan) is interested in doing it. He should have wound up the Vyapam. At least, he should have stopped the exams. Recruitments are still going on and other exams are being held under Vyapam. In fairness of the whole things, what they should have done is to wind it up.

That means Chouhan did not do his job properly.

Obviously. He is the head of the administration. He cannot escape responsibility saying he was not personally involved in it. He may not be personally involved but (the fact is that) he did not control. He was not pro-active. He did not take any preventive action or any corrective action after the event has taken place. What about political culpability and responsibility?

During investigations, have you come across any wrongdoing by Chouhan?

Not yet. However, certainly there were administrative lapses.

Now the Supreme Court has ordered a CBI probe.

It was argued in 2014 that this should go to CBI but the High Court decided no. It said STF is doing a good job and we have created SIT as a buffer and between them, they should be able to act. However, people kept on harping that STF is manned by people from the state police and therefore government has administrative control over them. Therefore, you cannot totally say that it free of pressure. This was the point of agitation in Supreme Court. I think the number of deaths has compounded the whole thing.

There are irregularities in conduct of entrance and recruitment in other states also.

People ask why are you all getting worried as it happens in other states also. That is no excuse or consolation.

How was your experience in SIT?

Very enriching but very saddening.

(An edited version appeared in Spotlight section of Deccan Herald on July 12, 2015)

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