(Reporting by Milind Ghatwai, Prashant Pandey, Hamza Khan, Kaunain Sheriff M & Jay Mazoomdaar)
With the Supreme Court ordering a CBI probe into the Vyapam scam, a massive recruitment scandal that has rocked the Madhya Pradesh government, a stronger investigation is expected into the mysterious deaths of several people linked with the case.
To get more clarity into these mysterious deaths, The Indian Express travelled across the country to meet families who have lost their dear ones. While many wanted to be left alone to mourn their loved ones, others have demanded answers from the administration.
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NARENDRA RAJPUT, 35
Cause of death: ‘Chest pain’
Narendra Rajput was the youngest among four sons of Putti Lal Lodhi, a former pradhan of Parpatar village in UP’s Mahoba district.
Lodhi died several years ago and Narendra was the only member of the family to pursue a professional degree, completing his Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from a college in Jhansi.
After spending eight years away from home for studies, Narendra returned to Parpatar village and barely six months before his death last year, opened a clinic in nearby Harpalpur.
Asked about his death, Narendra’s nephew Dhirendra said: “On April 13, 2014, at around 7 am, he went to the fields near his house. There, he experienced pain his chest and rushed back to his house. He stumbled on the doorstep and collapsed. We took him to a local hospital from where he was referred to Jhansi. But he succumbed on the way.”
The family members said they did not find anything suspicious in the death even though a postmortem could not ascertain a clear cause.
“We lodged a formal police complaint to get a postmortem done only because we were told that it was necessary in order to obtain compensation under the government’s insurance scheme for farmers. The report was unclear, and the insurance claim remains stuck,” said Drigpal Singh, the village pradhan and a cousin of Narendra.
Madhya Pradesh police records show that Narendra was a “middleman” linked to the government admissions and recruitment scam, with a case registered against him at the Sanyogitaganj police station in Indore.
But his family members say they first came to know of his alleged involvement in the scam when a police team visited their home three-four months after his death.
“He had tried to help a distant relative of his wife get a job. But the exact allegations are still unclear. The only thing the policemen were interested in was his death certificate,” said Dhirendra, Narendra’s nephew.
“The police came again during his first death anniversary this year. We feel it was to ascertain that the death certificate was real,” he added.
Narendra is survived by his wife Sudha Singh and two daughters, Yashi (3) and Garima (six months). His brothers and Drigpal live together in an old house opposite Narendra’s home. They now support Narendra’s family with income earned from farming.
The family members were not keen to talk about Narendra’s death but said that they did not suspect any foul play. They have destroyed all photos of Narendra as per their tradition, they added.
“My elder daughter was barely two when he died. She does not realise anything. She does not know that her father his dead,” said Sudha.
“When he died, I was pregnant with our second child. But I had not yet informed my husband about it,” she added.
“There is nothing more to say,” said Drigpal, adding, “These visits by police and reporters are creating problems for us.”
Narendra’s mother Gulab Rani, in her 70s, is the only one in the family who is willing to be photographed.
“But will this land us in trouble?” she asked, adding, “I am not worried about myself. But the youngsters in the family should not suffer any more.”
ANUJ UIKEY, 22
Cause of death: Road accident.
Anuj Uikey, a student of Sagar Medical College, was driving his father’s car on June 14, 2010, when it crashed into a truck at a curve on Hoshangabad Road near Betwa Dhaba in Raisen, killing him and two other students who were in the car with him.
“I went to the spot and realised that it could not have been anything but an accident. There was no conspiracy,’’ said Anuj’s father, Ganpat Singh Uikey, who is a police officer posted in the Barghat station in Seoni district.
Madhya Pradesh police had accused Anuj of having been a “middleman” in the Vyapam scam, and registered two cases against him in Bhopal.
According to police records, Anuj “arranged” impersonators to appear in the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) for “weak” students.
But 50-year-old Ganpat Singh said that he was not aware of his son’s activities.
The father had an interesting theory to offer though, about why his son’s name may have been dragged into the scam.
“I know how crime investigation is done. The impersonators who were arrested must have been briefed by their advocates to name people who are not alive. You can extract information from those who are alive, not from the dead,” he alleged.
“Once you name a dead person, the chain is broken and that scuttles all chances of reaching the big fish,” said Singh.
Anuj’s family hails from Mandla and Singh lives with his wife at the police quarters — their two daughters are married.
“Had Anuj been alive, he would have been the first doctor in this tribal family,” said Singh.
He added that he does not remember his son having any “extra income” because he used to regularly send money to him.
“When he died, he had Rs 8,000 or Rs 9,000 in his bank account. He never had much money,” said Singh.
“The insurance claim has already been settled. I have no doubts whatsoever that my son’s death was accidental,” said Singh.
Cause of death: Brain haemorrhage
According to Shailesh’s wife Manjari, he showed no signs of discomfort before going to sleep the previous night after dinner at their bungalow in Lucknow, which had been allotted to his father who was a former UP CM.
The next morning, she found him lying dead on the floor of his room, Manjari told police.
Within hours of the death being announced, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and several political leaders, including Lucknow MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi, visited the family to convey their condolences.
“His death was natural, he died due to brain haemorrhage. We do no suspect anybody,” said Kamlesh Yadav, Shailesh’s elder brother, who stays with his father at the Governor’s residence in Bhopal along with his other brother Ajai Yadav.
“He was a diabetic. He had food at night and went to sleep. We came to know about his death around 6 am. He died of brain haemorrhage,” said Champa, wife of Kamlesh Yadav.
Staff at Shailesh’s residence told police that he fell ill and died the previous night.
“He was a diabetic and had not been keeping well for many days. His condition deteriorated and he died in the night. We do not know what exactly happened but a doctor was called and he declared him dead,” said Amit Pandey, a domestic help.
Suresh Chandra Katiyar, Station Officer, Gautam Palli, said that a postmortem conducted on Shailesh, based on his wife’s statement and orders from CM Akhilesh Yadav, “could not ascertain any cause of death”.
“The viscera and heart were examined and no suspicious chemical was found in them either,” Katiyar said, adding that no one from Madhya Pradesh police contacted them in this regard.
MP Police linked Shailesh to the Vyapam scam when they were told by another accused, Veerpal Singh, that he had allegedly paid Shailesh Rs 3 lakh in cash to ensure that 10 candidates from Bhind cleared the qualification test for contractual teachers.
Apart from his wife, Shailesh, who ran various businesses including a petrol pump, left behind two sons — one in Class 7 and the other pursuing an MTech degree.
Asked how Shailesh’s death had affected the family, Kamlesh Yadav said: “I would not like to reopen that chapter because it hurts.”
Vikas Pandey, 35
Cause of death: Brain haemorrhage
Vikas Pandey had a law degree from a college in Allahabad and had put up a nameplate outside his home in Allahabad’s Jhunsi, identifying himself as a High Court lawyer.
However, he earned a living by teaching at a private school in Jhunsi and running a coaching centre in two rented rooms in the Kalyani Devi area, where he taught mathematics after school hours.
Vikas’s wife Archana, who is now based in Ghazipur, said that he died after a prolonged illness which started with “loose motions and vomitting” after he returned home from the coaching centre late on April 6, 2013.
Vikas was admitted to Jagruti Hospital, a private facility in Jhunsi, where he received treatment until April 28 when he was referred to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
“He could not be admitted there. Then, our family members tried to take him to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, but he died before that on April 29,” said Archana.
She added that the family came to know about Vikas’s links to the Vyapam scam only after he died, when a police team from Madhya Pradesh visited them in August 2013.
MP police records show that Vikas was accused of being a “racketeer” and a “middleman” for candidates appearing in tests for various government jobs.
“I had absolutely no idea. He never discussed anything with me. Even the policemen did not clearly tell me anything. They only said that they just wanted his death certificate,” said Archana.
Vikas was the youngest of six siblings. He lived in the Dariyabad locality in the city with his wife, mother, one of four sisters and her son in a house constructed by his father, Diwakar Dutt, a former railway clerk.
Dutt died two years before his retirement, over 20 years ago, and his job went to the first-born in the family – Vikas’s brother, Harivansh Pandey, who is now posted at Tundla in western UP.
The next in line, Vikas’s eldest sister, died a few years ago. Three other sisters are married but one of them Shanti Pathak has been living in the family home since 1998, after she gave birth to her son.
Shanti’s husband died early this year in his village in Bhojpur, Bihar.
Vikas was married to Archana in 2009, and the couple did not have any children. “That he was able to marry itself was a big thing. He was always carrying the entire burden of the family,” said Archana, adding that she moved out after his death.
“Now, my in-laws are not cooperating with me. I don’t feel like staying there,” she said.
“I am now staring at a blank future. I will have to do something soon. My brothers have helped me but I am also talking to the madam at the school where my husband taught. She has assured me that she would do something,” she added.
Vikas’s sister Shanti, too, said that her brother’s death hit her badly. “My son is trying for a college admission, and one of my sisters is helping me. But I am not sure for how long this can continue,” she said.
As for Vikas’s death, Archana and Shanti said that they did not suspect any “foul play” and added that they have not lodged any complaint with the authorities. But both admitted that the discovery Vikas’s alleged involvement in the scam has left them feeling frightened. “We don’t want the policemen to come again,” said Shanti.
Cause of death: Chest pain
Anand Singh Yadav, a medical student, was the third child of Ram Sharan Yadav, a former pradhan of Dari Khurd village in Fatehpur, with two elder sisters, two younger brothers and the youngest sister.
Nearly 10 years ago, Anand set up a coaching institute called DRS Coaching in Kanpur, along with a partner, with the money his father gave him from the sale of 11.5 bighas of land.
According to Ram Sharan, Anand also got enrolled in an MBBS course in Motilal Nehru Medical College in Allahabad. “He was in the fourth year of his course when he died in 2014,” he said.
Most of the family – apart from Ram Sharan and his wife Vimla Devi – lived in Gopalganj, about 15 km from Dari Khurd, on land given by the family of Anand’s mother.
Prakash Singh, two years younger to Anand, runs a hotel in Fatehpur’s Gopalganj while the youngest brother, Vikas, is unemployed. Anand’s 25-year-old sister Ankita is pursuing an M.Sc in Zoology and Botany at a college in Bindki.
Anand’s childhood friend, Arjun Singh, claimed that the coaching institute did very well and that his friend gave “a lot of money” to his parents.
“But he seldom came home. Even on festivals, he used to come for only a couple of hours and would never stay,” says Vimla Devi, adding that her son died just after his marriage had been fixed.
Anand’s family denied any knowledge of his alleged involvement in the Vyapam scam but according to MP police records, he was a “middleman” who arranged for “solvers” or impostors to appear on behalf of candidates in tests for various government jobs.
There were five cases registered against him in Jabalpur, Bhopal, Sagar and Gwalior.
Ram Sharan said a police team from MP visited them about three months after Anand’s death.
“The last time they visited us was nearly a month ago. The police officer from Indore only asked me to hand over a photograph of Anand. Even the first time, they made some queries at the coaching centre and left after getting the death certificate,” he said.
Anand died on October 9, 2013 at the Gopalganj house. His sister, Ankita, was with him at the time.
“He was involved in a road accident in Kanpur a couple of months ago and had missed his MBBS classes for a couple of months. Someone from his college called up and asked him to come over because his absence was getting too long. He told me that he needed to go to Allahabad. He then asked me to fetch oil for his bath. But suddenly, he said he felt an acute ache in the chest and fell down,” said Ankita.
Anand was rushed to a Gopalganj hospital, where he was declared dead. “We did not suspect any foul play and waived off his postmortem,” said Ram Sharan.
“Just a day before his death, he had promised me in a temple that he would open a hospital in the village once he completed his MBBS. The next day he was gone,” said Vimla Devi.
The family is now apprehensive about Ankita’s future, fearing that constant queries and visits from policemen and reporters might affect their plans for her marriage. “Please do not publish her photo,” said Vikas.
“All that we want is that the police should not keep coming back to our house,” said Ankita.
“What is left to say, my boy is gone,” said Ram Sharan.
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.
Cause of death: Organ failure
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.
Cause of death: Road accident
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.
Cause of death: Liver infection
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.”
‘Did not look like suicide’
Cause of death: Suicide
Rinku’s body was recovered from a house in Jhansi on April 21, 2013, with police concluding that it was a case of suicide by hanging.
Hailing from Ambah in Morena, Rinku left for Gwalior in 2008 after clearing his Class XII exam, said his brother Mahavir Sharma.
“He fell into bad company. After a couple of years, he set up coaching centres for students in Gwalior, placed big ads in the local press. Then he went bankrupt,” said Sharma.
He added that news of Rinku’s alleged involvement in the Vyapam scam shocked their father Siaram, who died of brain haemorrhage at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital a few months before his son’s death.
Mahavir claimed that Rinku’s body was found lying on the floor under a ceiling fan on which there was no sign of any rope having been tied. “I saw blood coming out of his ears and mouth, nail marks on his forehead and swelling in the head. It definitely did not look like suicide,” said Sharma.
But police dismissed his objections, alleged Sharma, adding that he “got a death certificate and the body, that’s all”.
Rinku’s brother claimed the family is being “harassed” by police even now. “Last week, an officer from the STF (Special Task Force to probe the scam) called up from Bhopal to record my statement and asked for Rinku’s contacts. How do I know? After his suicide, they did not hand over any of his possessions, not even his mobile phone. What could this boy have to do with such a mega scam anyway?” asked Sharma.
“I lost everything to fund my father’s treatment. Today, I live in a rented house and run this rented medical shop. I have three kids to raise. I had even published an advertisement disowning Rinku. It is up to the government to investigate, I have nothing to do with it anymore,” said Sharma.
Cause of death: Accident
Devendra Nagar, the only earning member of his family, died in a motorcycle accident on December 26, 2013. He is survived by wife Manju, who lives with his parents Asaram and Ramkatori at their ancestral home in Birkhadi village near Gohad in Bhind district. Nagar also left behind two sons — Yogesh (9) and Ayush (6).
“My elder son stays separately with his wife and children. I am 70 years old, and forced to work as a daily wager to support this family. Our finances have been poor since Devendra died,” said Asaram.
The family also complained of “constant harassment” by police. “On June 25, I received a notice asking me to reach Bhopal to record my statement. I spent whatever little money I had on the train fare. How many times will they record my statement? My son is long dead, we should be spared,” said Asaram.
family is evasive about the charges against Devendra — acting as a middleman in the recruitment of police constables.
Do they suspect any foul play in his death? “It was a collision of two motorcycles. The other person broke his leg. We don’t know, the police should tell us,” said Asaram.
Banti Sikarwar, 32
Cause of death: Suicide
Banti Sikarwar was 32 when he hanged himself at his ancestral home in Gwalior’s Sainik Colony two days ahead of Republic Day last year, said his maternal grandmother, Bitti Devi, wife of a soldier who fought in the 1962 Indo-China war.
Bitti Devi stays with the widow of her grandson and their two children — Mohini (6) and Sumit (3). Bitti Devi raised Banti after he lost his mother at an early age and his father remarried.
“Nani gets Nana’s pension of Rs 19,000 a month. But it will stop once she is gone. How will I raise my two children on the meagre rent that comes from one half of this house?” asked Banti’s widow Mala, who is a B Ed and preparing for a school job.
Bitti Devi, however, is not ready to look beyond the tragedy. “How do I know what Banti was up to? He was roaming around town all day, but I never thought he was involved in something that could take his life,” she said.
Mala said her husband never shared anything with her. “They say he was a middleman [in the Vyapam scam]. Even if that is true, how big could his crime be that he had to suddenly kill himself?” she asked.
Bitty Devi was so devastated that she destroyed every photo of her grandson. “One day, when I was at my mother’s house in Kanpur, she burnt everything, including his Voter ID and Aadhar card. It’s a big problem now to produce papers even if I try to seek some relief for my children,” said Mala.
Both Bitti and Mala refused to talk about the STF.
Cause of death: Road accident
Dinesh died in a road accident near Joura in Morena district on February 14, 2014.
At his ancestral home in Devgarh village, his widow Manju and their two children — daughter Muskan (10) and son Adat (7) — live with her mother-in-law Rambeti, younger brother-in-law Dilip and sister-in-law Renu.
“He used to work as a security guard in Morena. On that day, he was walking with a cousin when a four-wheeler hit them. The cousin survived,” recalled Dinesh’s uncle Banwari.
Dilip does odd jobs, and the family has been struggling since Dinesh’s death. “The money is never enough. The children go to school and I have an unmarried daughter,” said Rambeti.
The family recalled that the STF came calling a month after the accident. “Policemen keep coming. We are not educated. We don’t know about Dinesh’s involvement in any scam or what the police want from us,” said Banwari.
Rambeti said they did not suspect any conspiracy behind the accident. “It was raining that day. So probably the driver lost control, but the police should investigate,” she said.
Cause of death: Cancer
Anantram Tagore, a resident of Uttampura in Morena, died of cancer on November 7, 2012. Accused of getting his son Jagdish a job in the Railway Protection Force (RPF) through the Vyapam scam, he was diagnosed with cancer in the kidney two years before his death.
“The shock of witnessing his son’s career going bad killed him,” claimed Anantram’s wife Kalavati.
Anantram’s elder son Hemraj, a veterinary doctor, lives next door but cut off all links with Jagdish in a newspaper advertisement. “A few months back, Jagdish missed a court date and I was summoned. Policemen visit us regularly. My grandmother, my wife and children get worried every time someone comes knocking,” said Hemraj.
Kalavati insisted that her husband led an honest life. “All he wanted was to secure Jagdish’s future. And all that the poor boy does now is make the rounds of the courts. How many times do they want to ask the same questions?” she asked.
Cause of death: Heart attack
Narendra Singh Tomar’s name did not figure in the state government’s list of those dead but he died in Indore jail two days before the official list was released last Monday.
An assistant veterinary officer, Tomar was arrested on February 17 for his alleged role in helping scorers’ — imposters who write papers for candidates — in pre-medical tests in 2009.
Tomar complained of chest pain and was declared ‘brought dead’ at Maharaja Yashwant Rao Hospital.
The day his last rites were performed, people in his hometown Porsa in Morena observed a bandh. At a condolence meet, his father Kailash Tomar said the “backbone” of his family was broken. Today, Narendra’s elder brother Pramod helps his father in the fields while younger brother Vikram teaches at a school in Ujjain.
“I have two unmarried daughters and I lost my main support,” said Kailash.
The family claimed that Narendra’s mother and elder brother spoke with him on his mobile at around 6pm that day. “It was a normal conversation. And we get a call at 3am telling us he expired,” said Tomar’s cousin Sandeep.
“We don’t want any relief from the government. But it is our right to know how my brother died. He had no health issues. This is murder. We’ll not give up till we have the answer,” said Sandeep.
Arvind Shakya, 25
Cause of death: Accident
Arvind Shakya, a fourth-year MBBS student of Jabalpur Medical College, died on November 28, 2012, after he was allegedly pushed out of a moving bus.
Arvind’s father Ramkishan Shakya, a teacher at a government school in Kailaras Nagar, 80 km from Morena, said the family “did not know much” about his links to the Vyapam scam and did not suspect any conspiracy behind his death.
Months before his death in Jabalpur, Gwalior police had registered a case against him, accusing him of having been a “middleman” for the PMT.
“Eyewitnesses told police that he died while jumping off the bus. There was nothing more to it. We didn’t know he was accused in the PMT scam,” Ramkishan said.
A cousin said eyewitnesses and Shakya’s friends told him that minutes before his death, the medical student and some friends had entered into a heated argument with the conductor over paying the ticket fare.
What’s really bothering him, Ramkishan said, was that no action has been taken against the staff of the state transport bus in which his son was travelling when he was killed.
“We travelled on several occasions to Jabalpur to find out what happened in the case. The only answer we got was no one had been punished,” Ramkishan said.
Asked about the Vyapam link, Ramkishan said: “We are staying more than 100 km away from his college. He seemed to be happy about his medical course. He never told us anything about any scam.”
Apart from his parents, Arvind left behind a 20-year-old brother, who is an engineer, and a sister, who is pursuing a course in homoeopathy.
Arvind’s cousin Sunil Shakya said he had pieced together the events that led to the accident after speaking to eyewitness in the case.
“Arvind was travelling with three of his friends from college when they got into a fight with the bus conductor. And when the bus was taking a U-turn, he was pushed out and died on the spot,” Sunil said.
However, police records show that Arvind was killed while he was getting into the “crowded bus”.
Police have accused the driver of culpable homicide not amounting to death and filed a chargesheet – the case is being heard in court.
Ashutosh Tiwari, 26
Cause of death: Heart attack
Ashutosh Tiwari, a third-year student of Gwalior’s Gajra Raja Medical College, died of a heart attack in the campus hospital on August 19, 2013.
His family and friends, at the college hostel in which he stayed, said that an existing cardiac condition, aggravated by a “bad lifestyle, including heavy drinking and smoking”, led to his death.
Ashutosh joined the medical college in 2010 and his alleged involvement in the Vyapam scam – as a “racketeer” — came to light after his death when his family and friends came to know that cases were registered against him by police in Bhopal, Jabalpur and Rewa.
“He had a heart problem for a long time. His bad lifestyle worsened the situation and led to his death,” said Ashutosh’s father Narendra Tiwari, who is the principal of the Junior District School in Niwari, bordering Tikamgarh and Jhansi.
Asked about his son’s links to the Vyapam scam, Narendra said: “For years, the media didn’t highlight the issue. Now you knock at our doors. Digvijay Singh (Congress leader) kept warning about how innocents were killed. I will divulge all details to CBI.”
His voice rising in anger, the 55-year-old refused to elaborate on what he would tell the CBI.
Ashutosh started drinking and smoking heavily after failing to clear a subject in his first year, claimed a resident of the hostel.
“It was after this that he got depressed. His smoking and drinking habit worsened. Sometimes he used to skip medication for his heart problem. There were several times we had to get an ECG test done for him,” he added.
According to his friends, Ashutosh complained of high blood pressure after which “he was admitted in the ICU where he died of a heart attack”.
News of Ashutosh’s alleged involvement in the Vyapam scam came as a shock, the friends said.
They added that they believe his name was “dragged in” by a batchmate involved in the scam who told police that he cleared the PMT through Ashutosh.
Apart from his parents, Ashutosh left behind a sister.
Kuldeep Maravi, 26
Cause of death: Road accident
Kuldeep Maravi was on his way to join a group of friends to attend a marriage on May 10, 2013, when he died in a car crash near Bichhiya, where he was posted as a medical officer in a government hospital.
Hailing from Pindrai village, not far from the Mandla district HQ, Kuldeep completed his MBBS course from the Government Medical College in Gwalior and got posted to Bichhiya five years ago.
Despite repeated attempts, none of his family members agreed to talk about him or his death. Kuldeep’s brother Arvind, an engineer, did not return calls while the father, a school principal, declined to answer questions.”
“I have no reason to doubt that his death was not caused by a road accide’’,’’ said Dr Ashok Marskole, who described himself “s “a close fri”nd” of Kuldeep.
Dr Marskole added that he w”s “shoc”ed” when came to know after the accident that Jabalpur police had registered a case against Kuldeep for his alleged role as”a “middle”an” in facilitating medical admissions through Vyapam”
“I used to meet him regularly. He never told me about the ca’’,’’ said Dr Marskol”. “I regularly interact with his family members, too, and they have never raised any doubts about his dea”h,” he added.
Police records show that the accident that killed Kuldeep occurred at around 2.30 pm when the car in which he was travelling collided with another vehicle coming from the opposite side. The car driver suffered severe injuries but three others, who were accompanying Kuldeep, escaped unhurt.
Vikas Bharat Singh, 23
Cause of death: Suspected suicide
Vikas Singh died more than two and-a-half years before the Pre-Medical Test scam – the first brick in the larger Vyapam case – came to light in July 2013.
A student of the veterinary college in Mhow, near Indore, Vikas was found dead in his room in the b’ys’ hostel on November 21, 2009.
Citing medical records, local police said he died from a chemical reaction after consuming an unspecified number of aspirin tablets while getting heavily drunk. His body was found by other hostel residents who broke open his door the next day”
“There was no foul play involved. He probably committed suicide over a failed love affa’’,’’ says Rakesh Modi, in-charge, Kishanganj Police Station.
Police records show that Vikas was”a “middle”an” linked to the PMT with cases registered against him in three police stations in Gwalior, Sagar and Jabalpur.
Vikas’s father Bharat Singh, a teacher in a government school in Sendhva in Barwani district, refused to discuss his ‘on’s death.
But a friend, who did not wish to be named, said the family w”s “cert”in” that a failed love affair led to the death.
He added that a police officer had contacted the family over a week ago to ask if it had any doubts about the circumstances surrounding Vi’as’s death”
“The family replied that it had no complaints and did not want any further investigati’’,’’ he said.
Dr Ramendra Singh Bhadoriya, 29
Cause of death: Suicide
Dr Ramendra Singh Bhadoriya was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his home in Gwalior’s Khanchmil mohalla on the morning of January 8, a pillow cover over his face and a TV cable wire around his neck.
Devastated by the death of her elder son, Ramendra’s mother Kusma Devi, 58, killed herself five days later by consuming acid, leaving behind his 67-year-old father Narayan Singh Bhadoriya in their one-room house with bare brick walls, a small verandah and a leaking roof.
Ramendra worked at the Birla Hospital in the district, while studying to clear his post-graduation entrance exam — his name was on the list of successful candidates when the results were declared three weeks after his death.
Gwalior police concluded that he committed suicide due a failed love affair with a colleague he had planned to marry.
Narayan said that his son had planned to marry in September but said that was not the reason for the suicide. He added that Ramendra was depressed after the college where he studied for his MBBS degree withheld his school marks certificate. The college also issued a suspension order against Ramendra after he had completed his course, Narayan alleged.
Gwalior police records list Ramendra as an accused facing charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating in the Pre-Medical Entrance Test (PMT).
Police initially said Ramendra was an impersonator who appeared as a proxy candidate in the PMT for others.
Later, he was accused of having been a beneficiary himself of the “proxy system” in 2008, when he had cleared the test after four failed attempts and joined the Gajra Raja Medical College in Gwalior, a senior police officer said.
In April 2014, Ramendra was issued a showcause notice by the college based on the police case.
“My son suffered a lot of mental torture. He was first accused of being an impersonator (in the scam). He was then made to sign on some documents. Then, the college refused to give him the original documents that he had submitted when he gained admission there. It was after this that he took the extreme step,” alleged Narayan.
When contacted, an official at the college registrar’s office said the college had retained the documents because investigations were still on in the case related to Ramendra. The official refused to speak further, saying the “matter is with the police”.
Ramendra, meanwhile, started work at the Birla Hospital in June 2014, based on the MBBS degree he received from Jiwaji University. But Narayan said his son slipped into depression because he feared that he wouldn’t get an admission for a PG course without producing the original documents including the marks certificate.
“He used to have anxiety attacks and went on medication. This is when things went out of control,” said Narayan, adding that he will now move in with his younger son, who is working with the state horticulture department.
Lalit Kumar Golaria, 28
Cause of death: Suicide
In the last call he made, to his elder brother, he “urgently” demanded a sum of Rs 3,000. Hours later, he was found dead on the banks of the Sank river under a bridge in Morena district’s Noorabad.
Local police concluded that Lalit Kumar Golaria, a final-year student of Gajra Raja Medical College in Gwalior, had committed suicide by jumping off the bridge on January 16.
His family claimed that he had left behind a note in which he wrote that he was committing suicide “due to the PMT scam” and added that “no one is to be blamed”.
Lalit’s name now figures on a list prepared by Gwalior police of unnatural deaths linked to the admission and recruitment scam — incidentally, the warrant for Lalit’s arrest last year was first addressed to his dead father.
Deepak Golaria, a private sector employee, who received that last call from Lalit, said that he suspected that his brother took the “extreme step” after he became the victim of an extortion bid. “Two weeks before his death, he had demanded Rs 10,000 and Rs 8,000 from us on two separate occasions. We gave him the money. We suspect someone was extorting money from him. Otherwise, why would someone kill himself for Rs 3,000?” asked Deepak.
“Something went wrong that morning. His suicide note said he was committing suicide due to the PMT scam. He didn’t know how to swim, he always feared water,” he added.
“Gwalior police said they didn’t have the postmortem report. When we applied for the report, we found out that it was filed in Morena district. The report said he had consumed excess water while drowning,” he said.
Lalit, a 2006-batch medical student, cracked the PMT in his third attempt. He got married three years later to Rachna and the couple had a son Chandrakant, who is now four years old. “They had marital problems two years after the marriage and stayed separately. Lalit stayed with us, and his wife at her parents’ home,” Deepak said. Rachna refused to speak about Lalit or his death.
According to police records, Lalit’s name popped up on the third list of students alleged to have obtained “fake admissions” through the PMT.
Asked about Lalit’s arrest on June 19, 2014, Deepak said: “They (Gwalior police) first sent an arrest warrant against my dead father. Then, they wanted us to prove that he was dead, and we had to produce a death certificate. It was after that they arrested Lalit and put him behind bars for three months.”
Vijay Chhotelal Singh, 35
Cause of death: Cardiac arrest
Vijay Singh, a pharmacist from Rewa, was found dead on April 28 in a lodge in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker, where he had come to be with his wife who was teaching in a government school nearby.
Medical records show that Vijay died of a cardiac arrest but his family suspects foul play related to his alleged role in the Vyapam scam, and has demanded a probe into his death.
Members of his family, who live in Chaukhada in Teothar tehsil of Rewa district, claimed that neither they nor his wife knew that he had checked into the lodge.
They alleged that his phone and other belongings were missing from the room where he was found dead.
”Why are only people connected to the Vyapam scam dying of heart attacks?’’ asked Abhay Singh, Vijay’s younger brother.
“He was found dead in a lodge, and his room was bolted from inside. Postmortem and viscera report ruled out poisoning. Doctors have termed it a case of cardiac arrest,” said Kanker SP Badri Meena.
Local police said Vijay was staying with his wife at her home in Charama in Kanker.
”He left on April 16. On April 24, he arrived at the lodge and left two days later. He returned on April 28 and told the lodge workers that he would leave the next morning. The next morning, the workers found him lying on his bed,” said Deenbandhu Uike, in-charge, Kotwali police station.
Vijay had reportedly left Kanker for Bhopal on April 16 to attend a court hearing related to his case.
Vijay was working for the state government and was attached to a jail in Shajapur when he was summoned last year by the Special Task Force (STF) probing the Vyapam scam.
He was subsequently arrested for helping some students clear a recruitment exam for the state milk federation and later suspended from his job.
Abhay said that his brother was released on bail in February and was planning to set up a business because he realised that he would lose his job.
Asked whether he knew about Vijay’s link to the scam, Abhay said, “When he saw that the entire system was corrupt he too thought, why not help his own people? Anyone in his position would have done the same thing.”
A student of Navodaya Vidyalaya, Vijay tried to clear the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) but had to settle for a degree in Pharmacy. He stayed in Bhopal after competing his post graduation in pharmacy and opened a medical facility in Sehore with some friends before winding it up.
“He was not making any money. We sent money for his medical business and a vehicle,’’ said another family member.
Premlata Pandey, 35
Cause of death: Liver cancer
Premlata Pandey, the wife of a primary school teacher with RSS links, died on May 17, 2013 of liver cancer after being treated in various hospitals in Delhi, Bhopal and Indore.
According to police records, Premlata’s address in Bhopal was the office-cum-residential campus in Kotra-Sultanabad of Vigyan Bharati, an organisation affiliated to the RSS.
Records maintained by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Vyapam scam show that Premlata had scored only 34 marks out in the recruitment exam for contractual teachers but had 111 marks to her name in the final result.
She was among 73 candidates whose marks were allegedly altered — the exam results were eventually scrapped.
Premlata’s brother-in-law Rakesh Pandey was arrested by police for allegedly ensuring that she cleared the examination with the help of mining baron Sudhir Sharma, who is behind bars too for his role in the scam.
Premlata’s name had allegedly been recommended for the job by someone from the residence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s residence, a charge the Chief Minister’s Office has denied.
Rakesh was employed as assistant editor for an in-house magazine at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Communication and Journalism but has not returned to his workplace after obtaining bail.
Premlata’s husband Arvind stays in Beohari in Shahdol district where he teaches in a primary school.
“Premlata was in an advanced stage of pregnancy when the cancer was detected. She delivered a premature and weak baby,’’ said Arunendu, her brother, who added that he had severed all ties with her husband’s family after her death.
“We don’t want any probe because her death was natural,” he said.