Vyapam exam scam: Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan gets clean chit as 490 are charged
Over two years after Congress leader Digvijaya Singh alleged that a hard disk seized in the Vyapam case had been tampered with to remove Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s name, the CBI on Tuesday said that there was “no grain of truth in the allegation’’. Singh had alleged that the hard disk seized from Vyapam official Nitin Mahindra, main accused in the examinations and recruitment scam, had been doctored to replace “CM” with “M/S”, in an attempt to save Chouhan in the case.
But in a press note issued on Tuesday, the CBI said it had submitted a status report to the Supreme Court holding that the allegations were untrue. It has attached seven reports from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Hyderabad, and other evidence collected during investigation.
Mahindra, then principal systems analyst in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (also known as Vyapam), is alleged to have listed the names of influential persons linked to the case, on his computer in ‘Excel’ files. On July 18, 2013, the Indore police seized his computer and hard disk.
Singh, in a submission to the Supreme Court, had claimed that the word “CM” had appeared 48 times in the hard disk. The same allegation was also made by “whistleblower” Prashant Pandey. The investigation was handed over to the Madhya Pradesh Police Special Task Force and later to the CBI.
The CBI has said that experts prepared mirror images of Mahindra’s hard disk and two other HDDs, and sent these to CFSL for analysis. The agency also sent two pen drives submitted by Pandey — one purportedly had the “tampered files” while the other had the “original files”.
Ruling out tampering of the hard disk seized from Mahindra by the Indore police on July 18, 2013, the CBI, quoting CFSL findings, said it was last switched off on July 15, 2013, and its records were not accessed thereafter. All the five ‘Excel’ files with reference to “CM’’ were created or modified after July 18, 2013, it said.
The agency said the pen drives thus contained false documents, created after the hard disk was seized. There is no grain of truth in the allegations that the HDD seized from the office of then principal system analyst was tampered with,’’ it said.
Meanwhile, the agency on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against 490 accused, including three Vyapam (now renamed Professional Examination Board) officials, three racketeers, 17 middlemen, 297 candidates (including ‘solver’ and ‘beneficiary’ students), and 170 guardians in a Special Court for Vyapam cases in Bhopal, in the case related to irregularities in the pre-medical test (PMT) conducted in 2013.
The agency said medical college students or bright medical aspirants taking coaching in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan and districts of Maharashtra neighbouring Madhya Pradesh were among the “solvers”. To track them, the agency said it prepared a database of over 10 lakh students by collecting details of students of medical colleges and coaching institutes in all these states. Using advanced software to identify facial features, the CBI then matched the photographs in the admit card records to identify the ‘solvers’. The CBI said it managed to identify 42 ‘solvers’.