People protested relating to medical school exam scam in India. (Photo: Shuriah Niazi)

People protested relating to medical school exam scam in India. (Photo: Shuriah Niazi)

A medical school admission examinations scandal in India reads like a murder mystery movie.

There have been thousands of arrests, mysterious deaths and the suspected involvement of top politicians and bureaucrats.

In July 2013 it was revealed that for years question papers for the important exam were being leaked, answer sheets rigged, impersonators were hired to sit for candidates, and seats sold to the highest bidder.  Many of the students who may have cheated are now working as doctors.

Dr Anand Rai—a medicial doctor and activist-- was one of the people who exposed the scam and tipped of the police.

“The racket was going on for years. No action was taken by the authorities even after making many complaints as key official. Influential people were involved. The administration was a mute spectator and they did nothing to stop it,” he said.

He says he first realised that something was wrong when he took his medical school exam in 1994 and the paper was leaked.

The exam was cancelled and held anew. A medical college professor was accused of the leak. A year later, somebody pumped 40 bullets into him and killed him.

Dr Anand Rai's tip-off in 2013 led to the arrest of the alleged mastermind of the racket Dr. Jagdish Sagar.  

As a result of speaking out Anand Rai’s life is in danger.

“I approached the High Court after which I got the security for only 8 hours from 11 am to 7 pm,” he said.

Hundreds of students from various medical colleges were suspended after the scam was busted.

These students had again admission in medical colleges between 2006 and 2013 through cheating.  Parents of these students allegedly paid huge bribes.

Many of the students had already become practicing doctors.

Another whistle blower was Ashish Chaturvedi- a student of social work.

“I have been receiving threats after I exposed the scam some years ago. Chief minister Shivraj Singh wants to kill me. He fears that I can expose him. I have been attacked many times,” he said.

Scores of people associated with the medical examination scam have died after it came to light, many of them young people.

The official death figure is 27 but the opposition Congress party spokesperson KK Mishra claims the real figure is double that.

“Almost all the deaths are unnatural. Accused persons, suspects, middlemen, their family members, whistle-blowers and witnesses associated with the scam have died. One cannot claim that all were natural deaths,” he said.

On the July 4th a TV journalist died after he interviewed the parents of a girl who had killed herself in connection to the scam.

The next day, the Dean of the government run Jabalpur Medical College, who was investigating fake student enrolment, was also found dead.  His death happened exactly a year after his predecessor died.  He was also investigating the scam.
These latest unexplained deaths have sparked demonstrations on the streets of Bhopal and Delhi.

Most of the anger is being directed at Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Earlier this month he down graded the investigation into the scam.

The roll call of those accused in the scandal is a staggering list of who's who in Madhya Pradesh: senior politicians and police officers.

India's medical education system is one of the largest in the world.

India produces some 30,000 doctors a year. Rigged medical school examinations taint the image of Indian doctors.

Last month, India's Supreme Court ordered more than 600,000 students to retake the main medical school exams after they found that the question paper had been leaked.

Anand Rai feels that Vyapam is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The scam is worth millions of dollars. You can not imagine how big this scam is. It has been going on for years and everyone is involved in this scam. That is why we had been demanding investigation by the federal agency. Impartial investigation is only possible through a federal agency,” he said.

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