Vyapam scam: why the CBI needs to zero in on Yogendra Uprit
When the Central Bureau of Investigation team begins probing the Vyapam scam on 13 July, it would do well to pay a visit to Gwalior jail.
Imprisoned in the jail, is an ailing 74-year-old cancer patient Yogendra Uprit, allegedly one of the masterminds of the scam.
Uprit, who was the director of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board or Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam) between 2003 and 2004, is said to have disclosed the entire modus operandi of the scam to the Special Task Force that has been investigating the case. NDTV reported that Uprit could even be made a star witness in the case.
Now that the CBI will be taking over the investigation, perhaps Uprit can be made approver in the Vyapam case.
Apparently, Uprit is the best lead the investigators have. However, it is believed while Uprit has been more forthcoming in disclosing the working of the scam, he is much more cagey in naming the main conspirators.
How was the exam rigged?
Uprit is said to have revealed how he, along with Vyapam's software in-charge Nitin Mahindra, manipulated the entrance examinations conducted by the board.
The methods used are similar to those employed in rigging DMAT, an entrance examination conducted by the Association of Private Dental and Medical Colleges of Madhya Pradesh (APDMC).
The frequently used methods were:
1. Bakra: when a dummy candidate appears instead of the real one and passes the test. He is paid Rs 2 lakh.
2. Scorer: when a good student or even a doctor is asked to take the PMT, qualify and then forfeit his seat so that another chosen candidate from DMAT can get in. Several scorers became Tendulkars when they took the DMAT and PMT several times and qualified for others.
3. Blank fire: When candidates, who have paid money to those behind the racket, are asked to leave the sheets blank which are filled up later.
4. Slam Dunk: When Mahindra simply sabotaged the software to throw up names of favoured candidates.
Uprit is the thread that links DMAT and Vyapam.
Earlier head of Vyapam, Uprit was appointed examination coordinator by APDMC which conducts the DMAT exam.
Apparently, Uprit perfected the method of rigging at Vyapam and realised that it could be used in the DMAT exam as well.
What is the DMAT exam?
In 2006, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took a decision allowing private players to conduct their own dental and medical entrance exams to fill their quota seats.
This proved to be immensely beneficial to the private education lobby in the state.
DMAT exams were held in 11 cities across four states to induct over 1000 students.
Now that CBI will be taking over the investigation, perhaps Uprit can be made approver in the Vyapam case
Soon there were reports in the media about large scale rigging in the DMAT exam, particularly focussed on the People's Group, controlled by the Vijayvargiya family.
A beleaguered Chouhan handed over all complaints related to the exam to the Justice Chandresh Bhushan committee.
Bhushan scrapped DMAT 2006, which was held under the supervision of none other than Uprit, the controller of examinations and treasurer of the private medical colleges association.
No one wants to rake up the DMAT link beyond a point as the private education lobby in the state is dominated by 5-6 groups that have the backing of powerful politicians.
It is believed that almost a 1,000 seats in the state are sold for Rs 1000 crore every year and the scam involves everyone - politicians, bureaucrats, education administrators, private education barons and even RSS functionaries.
The CBI needs to get to Uprit soon, especially given his poor health and the manner in which people connected with the scam are dying under mysterious circumstances.