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Whistleblower in Judge-Minister case was murdered

Whistleblower in Judge-Minister case was murdered

Author: Gopu Mohan
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: July 2, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/483911/

Madras High Court Justice R Reghupathy's claim that a Union Minister tried to pressure him in a case involving alleged forgery of mark sheets in an MBBS exam has given fresh lease of life to a murder case that lies at the heart of the scandal.

The man who blew the lid off the mark sheet forgery racket in Pondicherry University was found murdered on May 20, 2008. That case is hanging fire despite demands from his family and political parties that it be handed over to the CBI which is probing the forgery case.

Jayaraman, 31, an employee in the examination department of Pondicherry University, who was found strangled to death in his farm, had formally filed a complaint to university authorities that middlemen, with the connivance of university officials, were involved in large-scale tampering of answer papers and mark sheets.

The CBI took up the forgery case six months ago and arrested a middleman and a section officer of the university. During the investigation, the agency found documents allegedly implicating Dr Krishnamurthy and his son Kiruba Sridhar, a medical student. It was while hearing their anticipatory bail plea on Monday that Justice Reghupathy claimed that a Union Minister had tried to pressure him.

Sridhar, who was appearing for his third exam - this was his last chance - at Aarupadai Veedu Medical College under the University, had scored only 9 out of 40 in ophthalmology.

The scandal first became public when Jayaraman wrote to university officials in January 2008. He said that he had collected details about how answer papers of several professional students had been replaced and mark sheets tampered with, said Durairaj, his elder brother.

Strangely, when the university set up an inquiry, Jayaraman's name came up as one of those allegedly involved.

"Soon after he filed the complaint, he started receiving calls - both threatening and with promises of money and job. Officially, he was transferred to the English Department," said Durairaj.

In February 2008, Jayaraman attempted to commit suicide. In his statement to the police, he said that pressure from within and outside the university had forced him to take such a step.

"On April 24, some henchmen threatened him with dire consequences if he gave any information to the internal inquiry panel. I advised him to file a complaint with the Kalapet police station but there was no further action," Durairaj said.

On the night of May 19, Jayaraman went to his farmland but did not return. His relatives went out in search and found his body, strangulated, his hands and legs tied. The local police have failed to make any headway in the investigation.

Jayaraman's family approached the High Court for a CBI probe into the murder case. The High Court has asked the state government for its opinion on transferring the case.

"It is evident that he was murdered for exposing the mark sheet scam. Our information is that he had collected about 200 cases which may have led to his murder. Now only the CBI can bring out the truth of the matter," said advocate MV Ramachandramurthy, vice-president of Indian Solidarity Committee for Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights, a local organisation that has taken up the case.

Durairaj said there were several unanswered questions. "The local police could not retrieve the records from Jayaraman's computer saying it was password-protected and needed experts from Chennai Cyber Crime Cell to access. After the CBI took over the forgery case, a fire broke out in the office and the computer was destroyed," he said.

"We have been investigating this case. But so far, we have not got any concrete evidence to proceed with the investigation. Also, the kin of the deceased have approached the High Court demanding the transfer of the case to CBI," said NP Sivadasan, SP (North).

University vice-chancellor J A K Tareen, a noted mineralogist, said that the university had taken prompt action against all those who were found to be guilty in the case.

"We cancelled the whole examination to ensure that no one benefited from the malpractice. Two section officers were immediately placed under suspension while those found suspicious were removed from their duties. But unfortunately we do not get much information from the police or the CBI about the two cases, making it difficult for us to take action accordingly," he said.

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