Vyapam whistleblower arrested; remanded to Bhopal crime branch custody for a day
Home INDIA Vyapam whistleblower arrested; remanded to Bhopal crime branch custody for a day
INDIA - POLITICS - April 8, 2022

Vyapam whistleblower arrested; remanded to Bhopal crime branch custody for a day

Vyapam scam whistleblower Dr. Anand Rai was arrested on Thursday night by the Bhopal crime branch from a hotel in Delhi in a case of sharing alleged fabricated screenshots of question paper of MP Teachers’ Eligibility Test (MP-TET), conducted last month by the MP Professional Examination Board (PEB), commonly known by its Hindi acronym Vyapam.

Rai was present at Bhopal district court on Friday evening and was remanded to police custody for a day. He will be presented in the court again on Saturday.

Rai, who worked as medical officer at government hospital in Indore, was also suspended earlier in the day by the state government for remaining absent from duty without due information and for making objectionable comments on social media.

The case was registered against Rai by Laxman Markam, officer-on-special duty (OSD) to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on March 27. Markam alleged that Rai and Congress spokesman K.K. Mishra had fabricated screenshots of MT-TET question papers to give the impression that they were leaked and received on his (Markam’s) cell phone and made them go viral. This, Markam said in his complaint, was a way to harass and defame him. Cases of fraud and under sections of SC/ST Atrocities Act were registered against both Rai and Mishra.

Rai approached the MP High Court with a petition to dismiss what he called a ‘fake case’ against him. However, the HC dismissed Rai’s petition and also vacated a stay on police action against him on Wednesday. Following this, a Bhopal crime branch team reached New Delhi on Thursday night to arrest Rai from a hotel there late in the night. The whistleblower was in Delhi to file a special leave petition (SLP) against the MP High Court order.

SC to hear SLP on Monday

Even as Rai was arrested by the Bhopal crime branch, his counsel (Rajya Sabha member) Vivek Tankha filed the SLP in the Supreme Court and made an appeal for early hearing of the case on Friday morning. “The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the matter on April 11,” Tankha told THE WEEK.

The senior counsel said he has told the Supreme Court about the arbitrary manner of arrest of Rai by the Bhopal crime branch. “Dr. Rai had been served notice of appearance by the crime branch for April 8 and he communicated to them that he was in Delhi to seek legal relief and will meet them after returning. However, the crime branch decided to arrest him on the night of April 7 itself,” Tankha said.

He also mentioned that it seemed to be a case of targeting Rai as K.K. Mishra, who was the principal accused in the case, was given a bail on personal bond from the police station in Bhopal on April 1, but Rai was denied bail. Also, Rai did not name the complainant (Laxman Markam) in his social media posts, Tankha pointed out.

What is the issue?

Rai had posted screenshots showing an WhatsApp account named ‘Laxman Singh’ with photos of what was supposed to be ‘leaked’ question paper of MP-TET on his social media account. He has asked as to how the question paper reached ‘Lux man’. Rai had alleged in his social media post that many candidates of (MP-TET) were provided the photos of the question paper and demanded a CBI inquiry into the ‘scam’.

Later, Mishra has used similar screenshots to release a statement alleging involvement of Laxman Singh Markam in the case. It was following this that Markam had got FIRs registered against Rai as well as Mishra.

The probe into the ‘leaked question papers’ is still continuing, but the state school education minister said the MP-TET will not be cancelled as it was conducted according to rules.

Political reasons?

Sources said there might be political reasons behind the action against Rai, who was one of the key whistleblowers of the 2011 Vyapam scam involving admission and recruitment tests conducted by the MPPEB. CBI probe is still on in many of the series of cases under the scam, while charge sheets have been filed in many cases.

During the past several years, Rai, despite being a government servant, has remained very vocal against the state government and its policies and also influences tribal politics in western Madhya Pradesh, patronizing the Jai Adiwasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) – an active organization of tribal youth.

The BJP government in the state is trying to woo the tribal votes quite aggressively and many political watchers see action against Rai as part of this agenda.

State government spokesman and minister Vishvas Sarang said on Friday that Rai was suspended because of his absence from duties and his objectionable social media comments. “Probe agencies are doing their work as there is an efficient administration and system in the state,’ Sarang said in regard to Rai’s arrest.

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