The CBI was entrusted to look into the alleged conspiracy to eliminate suspects booked in the admissions and recruitment scam in Madhya Pradesh. The probe agency was asked to investigate deaths of 24 individuals.
Among the 24 deaths, 16 had taken place much before the the deceased were booked in the Vyapam scam by the state police, the probe has found, ruling out any conspiracy behind the deaths.
The remaining deaths were due to natural causes, the agency said.
Ram Shankar (name changed) had died on June 18, 2007, from drowning but seven years later he was named as an accused in an FIR pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board known as Vyapam, the sources said.
The probe into the case of Shankar, whose death was alleged to be the result of a conspiracy to eliminate suspects in the Vyapam scam, shows he had died on June 18, 2007, the sources said when asked about the case of mysterious deaths linked with Vyapam.
However, in an FIR registered on June 18, 2014, the state police had named him as an alleged impersonator who solved papers of aspirants for a price, they said.
The post-mortem report also shows death from drowning. Two eye-witnesses had also confirmed it, they said. He is not alone. The probe has found that there was nothing suspicious about 23 deaths in which 15 preliminary enquiries were registered by the CBI, they said.
All the 15 preliminary enquiries have been closed by the agency as nothing suspicious was found in these deaths.
In one case, the death of Namrata Damor, the agency had registered an FIR which is still under investigation, the sources said.
"This was the modus operandi adopted by middlemen. During initial questioning, they took names of people who were already dead portraying them as solvers or secondary middlemen or part of racket to get impersonators," a source said.
The state police had registered the cases based on these interrogations but when they went on their trail it emerged that they were already dead, the sources said.
However, the alleged macabre chain of Vyapam suspects found dead hogged the media headlines with a controversy erupting that suspects were being eliminated as part of a criminal conspiracy and 24 such cases were transferred to the CBI by the Supreme Court.
Another such victim, whose name is being withheld, had died on November 21, 2009, but five years later on May 13, 2014, he was named by the police in three FIRs related to Vyapam cases.
One of these cases involved the death of a journalist from a leading Hindi news channel.
The agency has closed the preliminary enquiry after it found that the he had died of cardiac arrest and there was no sign of any poisoning, the sources said, claiming that exhaustive questioning of his colleagues was done.
The agency has concluded that either these deaths took place from natural causes, accidents or suicides before the scam surfaced or they took place from genuine reasons after the scam was reported.
One of the alleged victims had died on October 23, 2010, in an motor cycle accident. It was found he was a habitual drinker.
The accident resulted in a fatal head injury which led to cardio-respiratory arrest, his post mortem report said.
In Vyapam scam, it is alleged that a large number of bright students were hired by the candidates to take the medical entrance examination conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board known as Vyapam on their behalf for a price, CBI sources said.
Giving details, the sources said the candidates were approached by middlemen who engaged other middlemen to identify bright students in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi Maharashtra, and Rajasthan who could impersonate those taking the medical entrance examinations.
The CBI has registered 154 FIRs in connection with the alleged corruption cases which are at various stages of investigation or trial.
The strategy was such that the candidate did not know the second middlemen or the impersonator, the sources said.
In a number of cases, the photographs in online forms submitted by the candidates were allegedly morphed in a way to match with the impersonator, who was supposed to take the entrance examination on the payment of a fee, they said.
When the scam surfaced, candidates were asked to give names of poor people who were dead as being the middlemen, the sources said.
This was allegedly done to cover the tracks so that police cannot reach the actual middlemen and the examinee who appeared on behalf of such candidates in the examination.