An estranged husband’s organ failure apparently triggered by alcoholism; a son’s drunk-driving road accident; another son on his bike failing to spot a road divider; and a father rushed to hospital with fever, aches and vomiting.
All four are dead now and all four — part of the Madhya Pradesh government’s list of 25 deaths “related” to the Vyapam admission tests scam — are caught in the Congress vs BJP political firestorm.
The Indian Express travelled across Madhya Pradesh to meet the families of the dead. It found that a grandmother had burnt all photos of her grandson; a grandfather dismissed suggestions of foul play as “mere rumours”; a bewildered father said, “We had no enemies”; and a son just wanted to be left alone.
‘I believe they were drunk, speeding’
Anshul Sachan, 24
Cause of death: Road accident
Anshul Sachan, who joined Sagar Medical College as an MBBS student in 2009, was accused by police of having been a “middleman” in the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) linked to the Vyapam scam.
On June 14, 2010, Sachan was returning to Sagar from Bhopal with two other students when their car crashed into a truck near Raisen. “The accident was so bad that the bodies had to be taken out after cutting through the metal,” said Sachan’s father Rajkumar, 53, a farmer.
Sachan lived in his grandfather’s house in Hoshangabad’s Kothibazar till he completed his Class XII. He then went to Kanpur for coaching classes and was first selected for a veterinary course before he joined the Sagar college, his father said.
Rajkumar said he used to divide his time between Hoshangabad and Kuvakheda, a village about 40 km from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, where he stayed with with his wife and daughter.
He claimed that he never knew that his son had been named as an accused in the Vyapam case, adding that he used to give him Rs 3,000 every month to cover his expenses.
Rajkumar added that although he was a bit uneasy about the timing of his son’s death, he had no complaints.
“After the mishap, I wanted to be sure of what happened and went to Bhopal from where the three started their journey. I believe they were drunk and probably over-speeding,” he said.
Sachan’s grandfather Shivkumar, a former deputy director (agriculture) in the Madhya Pradesh government, dismissed as “mere rumours” suggestions of foul play in his grandson’s death.
He added that a policeman had come to his house last week to confirm if he was satisfied with the probe.
Officials at the Umraoganj police station in Raisen, where the accident was recorded five years ago, have stopped keeping track of the trial. The driver of the truck was arrested and released on bail, one of them said.
‘He was a heavy drinker’
A medical student, Gyan Singh Jatav had eight cases registered against him for his alleged involvement as a middleman in the PMT scam. According to records, Jatav died of liver and kidney failure on October 26, 2010 — his estranged wife said the death may have been triggered by excessive drinking.
Hailing from Ruri village near Lahar in Bhind district — no one lives in the family home now — Jatav’s mother passed away when he was around four, after which his father Jagdish married again.
Jatav’s stepmother now lives with her only son in Bhind town. His elder brother Man Singh Jatav also stays in Bhind where is works for MP police — he got the job after his father died on duty as an Assistant Sub Inspector in the Special Armed Force in 2007.
“Gyan left the village to study and married a girl in Gwalior. It was a love marriage. There was no ceremony and none of us was invited. They settled in Gwalior and had a son. Later, his brothers also left the village. We don’t know how Gyan died though his body was brought here for cremation. Policemen still visit the village every now and then and ask for information we don’t have,” said Jatav’s uncle Dwarka Prasad in Ruri.
In Bhind, Man Singh refuses to talk about his younger brother or his death. In Gwalior, Jatav’s widow Jyoti insisted that she had snapped all ties with her husband in 2007.
“I stayed with my parents in Lalitpur Colony (Gwalior) along with our son Armaan who was only four years old when Gyan expired. Now I practise law. When we were together, both of us held tuition classes. Till Gyan’s father was around, he used to send some money. I have no idea what Gyan did for a living after I left him,” she said.
“He was a heavy drinker and continued drinking even after he had a jaundice infection. It is possible that’s how he died, I can’t tell. But police continue to harass me, demanding details of his drinking partners. I ask them if they take their wives along when they go to drink with their buddies,” Jyoti added.
‘What is there to investigate?’
A student of Gandhi Medical College in Bhopal, Tarun Machar was accused by police of having employed another man to write the PMT test for him in 2013.
On September 15, 2013, Machar was travelling on his bike, with a friend riding pillion, when they hit a road divider on Kolar Road in Bhopal. Machar died, his friend survived with injuries on his hands.
”The accident must have happened after midnight. We got a call around 5 am. They were probably out to get some food,” said Machar’s father Prabhudayal, a veterinary field officer posted at Chiklana, about 4 km from their home in Dhodhar, which is 70 km away from Ratlam.
“I am sure it was an accident but my only doubt was: who was driving the bike? The police claimed it was Tarun, I am not so sure,’’ he added.
“What is there to investigate? We had no enemies,’’ he asked.
Prabhudayal said that he had no idea about how his son got involved in the Vyapam scam. “But now, our life has become a burden,’’ he said, breaking down in tears, adding that he and his wife also have a daughter who studies in Ratlam.
The father denied that he had arranged money for his son’s “illegal” admission to the medical college, adding that they hailed from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, which helped his son qualify.
Prabhudayal’s wife Mehtab, a teacher in a government primary school in Dhodhar, said she was not sure if her son’s death was an accident or if there was a conspiracy involved.
‘Stop harassing us’
An assistant professor at Sagar Medical College, Arya was out on bail after his arrest on May 13, 2014 for his alleged role in helping students “fix their Pre-Medical Test” in the admissions scam.
At 8 am on June 26, Arya was admitted to Gwalior’s Birla Institute of Medical Research (BIMR) with fever, body ache and vomiting.
The next morning, he was referred to Relife Hospital where he died at 10 am.
At Arya’s Sarika Nagar residence in Gwalior, his eldest son Rahul, 18, said: “I have just cleared my Class XII exam, and my two sisters and a brother are still in school. My father took a loan to build this house and we still owe the bank about Rs 6 lakh. How will we pay the monthly installment of Rs 13,000 and the school fees? As it is, my father was getting only half his salary since he was suspended after his arrest. I’ll now have to drop my plans for further studies and find a way to support the family.”
Rahul added: “I have no idea about his role in the PMT scam. But how can a normal, healthy person die in 24 hours in a prominent city hospital? We were not informed about the exact cause of death. Nobody from the government visited us after he died. We appeal to the government to drop the cases against my father now that he is no more. If they can’t help us, they should at least stop harassing us.”
(To be concluded)