India

Vyapam scam: Media demand 'fair probe' in Madhya Pradesh deaths

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has rejected suggestion of a federal probe into the scam
Image caption Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has rejected suggestions of a federal probe into the scam

Media in India have urged the government in the central state of Madhya Pradesh to hold a fair probe into the alleged irregularities in government jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

The government ordered an investigation into the allegations in 2013 when details emerged that "undeserving" candidates were repeatedly given admissions in medical and engineering colleges, and also in jobs.

Millions of students work hard every year to clear an exam that ensures them a place in good colleges run by state governments and also private organisations.

But media reports say that some find other means, like paying bribes or cheating, to get a place after they fail to clear the intensely competitive exam.

Opposition parties have blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not holding a fair probe into the scam which, they say, has been going on since 2007.

The BJP, however, said it was confident the authorities were investigating the allegations in a fair manner.

The scam - widely known as Vyapam - has been making headlines since 2013, but the death of an investigative reporter in the state on Saturday has brought the media's spotlight back on the case.

Newspapers and TV channels are giving wall-to-wall coverage to Akshay Singh's death.

He was visiting the state to investigate the scam for a national news channel.

The India Today group, Singh's employers, has demanded a probe.

"The circumstances of the untimely death of TV Today journalist Akshay Singh merits a full, fair and independent inquiry," the group said in a statement.

'Mystery deaths'

Officials in the state say that at least 30 people linked with the scam have died since the start of the investigation in 2013.

However, the main opposition Congress party says more than 150 people have died.

Several mystery deaths have prompted media outlets to ask for a fair investigation.

The Deccan Herald says the scam is "an indication that the state's institutions have degenerated and are rotten beyond belief".

"The sheer ruthlessness that underlies the mystery deaths is probably even beyond what a seasoned crime writer can visualise. And, the most shocking part is that the Madhya Pradesh government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan does not seem to be accountable to anyone," it says in an editorial.

The paper urges the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's federal investigative agency, to step in to "enable a fair investigation which needs to be monitored by the Supreme Court".

It adds that the scam "makes a complete mockery of the principle of fairness, honesty and justice - without which institutions cannot survive".

Hindi newspaper Jansatta finds it "astonishing" that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has refused to acknowledge these deaths as "suspicious".

It appear that witnesses are being killed "to shield some big names", the paper adds.

Dainik Jagaran, another Hindi daily, urges the federal government to set up strict rules and monitoring systems in states to avoid such scams.

Twitter anger

Several Twitter users, including senior journalists, have also expressed their anger over these deaths.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Vyapam is the Hindi acronym for Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

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