Vyapam whistle-blower defies death threat, vows to expose CM Chouhan

Ashish Chaturvedi, one of the four key whistle-blowers of the Vyapam scam, has vowed to name all the big fish, including Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, involved in the murky Vyapam scandal that has taken the lives of 35 people so far.

Chaturvedi, 26, a social activist, is one of four key whistle-blowers into allegations that bribes were paid in Madhya Pradesh to top politicians and bureaucrats in exchange for allowing proxy candidates to take qualifying exams for government jobs, in what has now come to be known as the Vyapam scam

Chaturvedi has received more than 10 alleged threats, including a recent warning that he would be "cut into pieces," besides several attempts to kill him.

As people with knowledge of the murky scam continue to die in mysterious circumstances and the Vyapam scam escalates further into a national controversy, a local court has ordered that Chaturvedi be protected for life.

But, Chaturvedi is not reassured that he will escape the mystery death. "I will be the next mysterious death," NDTV quoted him as saying.

Yet, Chaturvedi says he will not budge from his mission: "Even if I die as a result, I want to name the big fish - starting with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan."

Amidst a high court-supervised investigation into the scam by the Madhya Pradesh police, key witnesses in the Vyapam scam continued to disappear. The 35 mysterious deaths have pointed to ruthless cover-up by powerful politicians.

On Saturday, journalist Akshay Singh, who was reporting on the scam, died soon after he began frothing at the mouth while conducting an interview. "I spoke to him just two hours before that," Chaturvedi told NDTV, "he was collecting evidence to expose powerful people".

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today agreed to hear a petition seeking removal of Madhya Pradesh governor Ram Naresh Yadav on grounds of his alleged involvement in the scam in the massive admission and recruitment scam associated with the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB).

A bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Arun Kumar Mishra and Amitava Roy said that they would hear the petition about the Vyapam scam relating to the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) along with other pleas on the issue on 9 July.

The petition, filed by a group of lawyers, has sought removal of Yadav and recording of his statement in the case.

Earlier, the apex court had granted four months more time to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted following a High Court order, to conclude probe into the case.

The multi-crore rupees professional examination scam, involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused.
 
It all started in 2009, when Chaturvedi began an investigation on his own after he found that the doctors attending to his mother in a local hospital lacked basic training and knowledge.

Subsequently, in 2013, a sting operation based on tip-offs he received helped allegedly corroborate that money had changed hands in the widespread cheating in exams.

A police case was then filed on the basis of evidence that Chaturvedi provided.

Reports soon emerged that bribes were being paid in Madhya Pradesh to top politicians and bureaucrats in exchange for allowing proxy candidates to take qualifying exams for government jobs.