Know about the major scams of Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s regime

Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for 13 years. His regime will be remembered for scams more than anything else. Police and a section of judiciary were Chouhan’s accomplices. Here is a summary of major scams of the Chouhan era:

Vyapam scam

This is the biggest scam of Chouhan’s period. It has destroyed the careers of thousands of young boys and girls. Vyapam or Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Professional Examination Board – PEB) is entrusted with the task of conducting technical/professional examinations. The names of the meritorious students appearing for pre-medical test were quietly replaced with the names of those who could pay hefty sums to the touts and they were declared successful for admission to medical colleges, leaving the genuine students wondering how they failed in spite of having done the tests so well. The names of Chouhan, his wife Sadhna Singh and his close associates were said to be involved in the scam. As it turned out a money-spinner, recruitment to several other departments was also brought under the control of Vyapam.

Following a public hue and cry, Chouhan constituted a Special Task Force (STF) to investigate the scam. Cover-up by STF was helped by then Madhya Pradesh High Court Chief Justice (now a Supreme Court judge) A M Khanwilkar who monitored the investigation in a secret and dubious manner. Later the Supreme Court handed the investigation to the CBI. In its order, a bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu, Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy made it clear that with the CBI on the case now, the High Court will not “touch” the Vyapam cases.

Around 50 people connected with the Vyapam scam have died under mysterious circumstances. There is no record of how many meritorious students committed suicide after they found themselves unsuccessful in the tests. Incidentally, the CBI did hardly better than the State police.

Dumper scam

Chouhan became the Chief Minister on November 29, 2005. On December 12, his government issued an order allotting to JP Associates prospecting licence of mining on 470.941 hectares of land in Rewa district. Not only that, the government also allotted to JP Associates 25.842 hectares of private land belonging to farmers of the area though no farmers’ land can be allotted for mining without the consent of the farmers. When the farmers protested, the security personnel of the JP Associates fired on them. In return, the JP Associates gifted to Chouhan’s wife Sadhna Singh four dumpers worth Rs two crore and took these dumpers on rent from Sadhna Singh Chouhan.

The case was referred by a court to Lokayukta for investigation. The post of Lokayukta was held by former Supreme Court judge P P Naolekar, a dishonesty incarnate. His investigation found nothing illegal in the matter. Later Chouhan’s government made an out-of-turn favour to Naolekar’s son Sandeep Naolekar. In reply to an RTI query by a Damoh social worker Santosh Bharti, the Chouhan government replied that it did not know who Sandeep Naolekar’s father was nor did it know the age, profession or correct address of Sandeep Naolekar.

‘Encounter of SIMI activists

Eight SIMI activists, seven of them undertrials and one convict, lodged in the high security Bhopal Central Jail, were reportedly told by the jail authorities on the eve of the Diwali that they were being shifted to Indore jail. They were given new clothes and shoes and taken out in vehicles to a hillock, some 10 km from the Bhopal jail and killed. It was claimed as encounter. Chouhan ordered a judicial inquiry by a retired High Court judge S K Pande who gave a report as the police and jail authorities wanted it without even hearing the others.

Shehla Masood murder

RTI activist Shehla Masood was gunned down in front of her house. Then Director-General of Police S K Raut, Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence) R K Shukla (who is DGP now) and other senior police officers reached the spot promptly and messed up with the evidence. Masood was said to have made RTI queries about some illegal mining operations in which had the involvement of Chouhan’s close relations was alleged. She was also said to have made queries about the late Anil Dave’s Narmada Samagra. Dave had an unusual hold over Chouhan and was running several rackets with the help of Chouhan. The police, or the CBI which had later taken up the investigation, did not even question top police officers nor did they interrogate retired Medico-Legal Institute Director D K Satpathy who had prepared a made-to-order post mortem examination report. Meddling with murder evidence attracts imprisonment and deprivation of post-retirement benefits. Could these high government officers have taken the risk without an assurance from the Chief Minister?

Sabharwal murder

Prof. H S Sabharwal (of Madhav College of Ujjain) was beaten to death allegedly by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists enraged at the Professor’s decision to postpone the students’ union elections following rowdyism. Six of the top ABVP activists were booked for murder. Chouhan’s police bungled the investigation. Supreme Court, while transferring the hearing of the case from Ujjain court to Nagpur court disapproved of the police conduct and made some harsh remarks. The Nagpur court acquitted all of them saying the police could not produce evidence of their involvement in the murder.

Disappearance of a rape victim

A girl, belonging to a poor family in Indore, was gang-raped. The girl’s parents met chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during the latter’s visit to Indore. A little after the incident and the chief minister promised early arrest of the perpetrators of the heinous crime as well as some financial help to the family. Months passed and nothing happened. The girl, along with her mother, travelled to Bhopal to meet the chief minister and remind him of his promises. They were sitting near gate number six of the Chief Minister’s residence (where the Chief Minister met the petitioners). From there the girl disappeared. Neither the girl nor her mother have been traceable since then.

Hit and run victim

A middle-aged man was going to his shop on a two-wheeler around one in the afternoon. On the wide road in MP Nagar, a car hit him from behind and sped away before anybody could read the number of the car. The victim received head injuries and fell unconscious but he, somehow, survived.

What made the incident different from such other happenings was that the victim in this case was Raman Rusiya, younger brother of Madan Gopal Rusiya, who was the Bhopal Development Authority (BDA) chief executive officer (CEO), and was taken to Delhi by BJP MLA Jitendra Daga (whose land was marked to be acquired by the BDA for development of new colonies) but never returned to Bhopal. His body was recovered from a ditch near the railway track, some 30 kms away from Agra. Madan Gopal’s family members, his hit-and-run victim younger brother included, had been talking of a high level conspiracy to eliminate Madan Gopal and demanding a CBI inquiry. However, the district police chief ruled out a foul play even without it was known whose car it was or who was driving it when it hit Raman Rusiya.

Death by ritual shooting

There were scores of RSS activists assembled at the Saraswati Shishu Mandir at Kotra locality (of Bhopal) on the day of the Dussehra for “Shastra Pooja” (worship of weapons). RSS Pracharak Naresh Motwani, in his late forties, arrived. There was the sound of a gunshot and all those present escaped. Two RSS activists, having come from outside, arrived there half an hour later and found Motwani’s body lying in a pool of blood. They carried him in the auto in which they had come and took him to the hospital where he was declared brought dead.

The district police chief ruled out a foul play even though neither the weapon of offence had been recovered nor had it been known who had fired it. Four days later, following tremendous pressure from the people in general, and Motwani’s relations in particular, a case of causing death by negligence against unknown person(s) was registered. Motwani’s son, Vijay, had all along been saying that his father had been murdered.

N D Sharma

is a senior journalist, and Patron of eNewsroom India.

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