Day after scribe's death, opposition seeks SC-monitored Vyapam probe

New Delhi: The Congress and the AAP on Sunday hit out at the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government over the recruitment scam in the state's Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (or Vyapam), and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe after a TV journalist covering the scandal died under mysterious circumstances.

"A Supreme Court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe is needed. There is no bar on it even as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is already probing the case," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference here.

He said the SIT set up by Madhya Pradesh Police was "not doing enough to unearth the truth" and the case should now be transferred to the CBI.

"We want the truth to come out. Justice should prevail. We all must join our heads and hands so that justice is served to the victims," Surjewala said.

The Congress accused Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of "misleading the people and parroting his old line" on the demand to get the case investigated by an impartial investigating agency.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which said Vyapam was no longer a scam, claimed it had become a "narsanhar" (massacre) and demanded that the ongoing probe by the SIT should be overseen by the Supreme Court.

"It is sad that one of our journalist friends has died while reporting the Vyapam scam," AAP spokesman Dilip Pandey told the media here. "Vyapam is no longer a scam, it has become a 'narsanhar' (massacre)."

Pandey said both Chouhan and Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav should be sacked.

"How can we expect a fair probe from the governor (who is overseeing the SIT) when his own name is in the FIR of the Vyapam scam?" asked the AAP leader.

The political parties' reaction followed Saturday's death of New Delhi-based TV reporter Akshay Singh in Madhya Pradesh's Jhabua district while he was covering the scandal.

Akshay Singh -- of TV channel Aaj Tak -- who died in Jhabua on Saturday afternoon, was cremated in Delhi on Sunday. His family, a large number of journalists and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia were present at the cremation grounds.

Pakshi Singh, the journalist's sister, on Sunday demanded that his viscera should be examined outside Madhya Pradesh for a fair investigation.

In a letter to Chouhan, she requested that her brother's viscera preferably be sent to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.

"My brother's viscera will be examined in Delhi," she told IANS later on Sunday evening, confirming that her demand was accepted.

Meanwhile, Arun Sharma, the dean of a medical college in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh who was also connected with the scam probe, was found dead in a hotel near the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. He was on his way to Tripura as a member of an inspection team of the Medical Council of India.

Sharma, 64, was assisting the Special Task Force probing the recruitment scam by providing documents on fake medical entrance examinees in the state-run college, police said.

The Congress in Madhya Pradesh said at least 48 people have died in connection with the scam.

K.K. Mishra, chief spokesperson of the state Congress, on Sunday said Arun Sharma, who was found dead in a Delhi hotel, was of sound health and suffering from no illness.

Arun Sharma's Bengaluru-based brother Deval Sharma, who is also a doctor, urged Delhi Police not to conduct any medical procedure on the body till he reaches the capital.

Journalist Akshay Singh, who was in Jhabua on Saturday to talk to the family members of scam-accused Namrata Damor, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances, suddenly fell ill and began foaming in the mouth. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

Congress leader Mishra said the cause of the journalist's death was said to be a heart attack, "but in such cases, there is no foaming in the mouth".

He said Chief Minister Chouhan's "refusal" to order a CBI probe shows his complicity in the scandal.

Mishra also alleged that Chouhan's wife Sadhna Singh was also linked with the Vyapam scam, and used to regularly contact over phone the people involved in it.

The admission and recruitment racket in Vyapam (or the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board) apparently involves politicians, officials and businessmen. More than 40 people associated with the scam have died since 2013.

The most high-profile death was of Shailesh Yadav, son of Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. Shailesh, 50, was found dead at his father's residence in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on March 25.

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