The dean of a medical college who was assisting the probe into the Vyapam cheating scandal in India was found dead in a Delhi hotel just 24 hours after the death of a journalist who was also involved.
Some say that this is evidence of a systematic elimination of those linked to the scandal, according to the Hindustan Times.
64-year old Arun Sharma, the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College and Hospital, had previously handed over about 200 documents to a special task force regarding admissions to the college. Hundreds of students from the college have been implicated in rigging tests by the Professional Examination Board, which has resulted in over 2,000 arrests.
Students involved in the racket made use of imposters, manipulated seating arrangements, and forged answer sheets.
Delhi police said none of the prima facie evidence suggested foul play in his death, but that they haven’t ruled out suicide. An almost empty bottle of alcohol was found in the room, which was locked from the inside. His son said he had suffered from heart problems and some medicines were found in the room.
P. Naveen and Somreet Bhattacharya of the Times of India quoted investigating police officer RS Pandey:
He [the dean] had asked the hotel staff for a wake up call on Sunday morning. However, when there was no response to the staff’s calls, the hotel’s staff broke open the door and found him dead.
Another officer described the scene:
Whiskey and some medicines were found near his bed. There were no wounds on his body. A post-mortem examination will be conducted today [Sunday] after his son arrives in Delhi.
He was in the hotel room prior to a flight for Agartala where he was to be part of an inspection team for the Medical Council of India, writes Siddharth Ranjan Das of All India.
TV journalist Akshay Singh died 24 hours earlier while interviewing the family of a girl who was found mutilated on a railway track after her name was brought up in the scandal. Exactly a year before Sharma’s death, his predecessor DK Sakalle, 60, was found burned in his home in Jabalpur.
Congress and the AAP have demanded an independent probe in light of these two most recent deaths. Altogether, almost 40 deaths have been linked to the scandal, leading to suspicions that whistleblowers and witnesses are being silenced.
PTI quoted Sudhir Tiwari, president of the Jabalpur district of the Indian Medica Association (IMA):
Dr. Sharma was found dead at his room in a hotel in Delhi. We are shocked at his death; he was very close to Dr. Sakalle. … I suspect that Sharma too might have been killed.
The incident’s name, the Vyapam scam, comes from the Professional Examination Board’s Hindi acronym.