BHOPAL:Dr Jagdish Sagar, the kingpin of the Vyapam scam involving admission in the Madhya Pradesh medical colleges, has been using various methods to get his candidates through since 1997. His fortunes changed dramatically in 2008, when employees of the board colluding with him were caught.
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The Special Task Force (STF) investigating the scam under supervision of the court-appointed Special Investigations Team (SIT) found that Sagar, with the help of a system analyst at Madhya Pradesh Professional examination Board (MPPEB) also called Vyapam, Nitin Mohindra and his assistant Ajay Sain, may have, according to conservative estimates, taken money from 1,000 candidates with a promise to help them get admission. Charging each candidate Rs 5 lakh, the medical scam alone could be to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore. The scam, which started during the Congress government in the State, singed the BJP-led dispensation. However, despite Opposition charges, SIT sources said nothing incriminating has been found against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan or his family.
Official documents accessed by Express showed that Sagar got the idea of the ‘Munnabhai’ style scam for pre-medical tests in 1997 through his friends named Shrivastva and Anand. Documents show the trail of how the 44-year-old, who took nearly a decade to complete his MBBS from Gwalior college, managed to dupe people through the years.
In 1997, he took money from two candidates, but none of them got through. In 1999, he helped 10 candidates out, in which three were selected. This earned him Rs 3.85 lakh. Subsequent years again proved unlucky for him — despite helping between 5 to 12 candidates cheat, he could not get anyone in. This was the time he was desperately trying to rope in Mohindra.
He finally succeeded in 2008 — with help from Vyapam employees, Sagar got in eight of the 25 candidates, earning him Rs 20 lakh after distributing the bounty. After this, Sagar never looked back. Later years earned him more profits, and in 2011, he had managed to get in 32 out of 130 candidates, netting him Rs 1.5 crore.
Scamster Sagar and Associates Mostly Targeted Reserved Category Students
According to police investigations, Sagar’s time ran out a few days before the PMT exams on July 7, 2013, when an anonymous letter reached Indore police alleging irregularities in the exam. A day before the exam, raids led to the arrest of several impersonators. “Sagar got a whiff of the raids and started moving around,” a source said. However, ironically, the test was held on schedule, despite a case being filed and results were declared in six days. “As Sagar and his associates in Vyapam wanted that second tranche of money from the successful candidates, the results were declared in a great hurry,” a source said, suggesting the inside role of bureaucrats and some politicians.
Even the role of all the officers who were incharge of the Vyapam from 2008 to 2013 are under investigation, sources said.
STF’s investigations revealed that most of the candidates who benefitted or were targeted by Sagar and his gang were those belonging to the reserved category. As the merit percentage was lower in the reserved category, it was easier for Sagar to promise admission by asking impersonators to appear for the exam. Sagar chose students from medical colleges to either impersonate, or get a roll number before or after a particular student to help him cheat.
He promised over Rs 1 lakh to medical students (scorers) to help in cheating. Interestingly, many a time when these scorers wrote exams to help certain candidates, they themselves were also able to clear it. So, when the counselling for medical seats were done, these scorers would vacate the seat after taking further money from the next one on the merit list.
SIT was initially given 55 cases to investigate last year, but now the number has swelled to 125. Charge-sheet has been submitted in 25 cases, while it is ready in another 14-odd cases.
When STF started their probe, it was hit by lack of evidence. Many beneficiaries were arrested, but the medical students who helped in impersonation went undetected. So STF devised a unique strategy -- the police officers went to medical colleges in Madhya Pradesh and in neighbouring Hindi-speaking States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. STF collected 40,000 photographs of students who were enrolled in these colleges for the last few years. These photographs were used to match those on admit cards available with the examination branch. The STF was able to match 70 photographs, and all those students were arrested.