Anand Rai, the Indore-based doctor who blew the lid off the Vyapam scam, first sensed something was amiss in 1993. He had come to Indore as an aspiring doctor from his village, Mahendragaon, in the Harda district of Madhya Pradesh to appear for the pre-medical test, or PMT. The entrance test was being conducted by Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal, or Vyapam, the professional examination board of Madhya Pradesh.
Rai was delighted with the zoology paper in which he had excelled. But his joy was short lived. News broke out that the paper had leaked in Gwalior. Distressed but determined to seek justice, he and some fellow candidates protested and the exam was held afresh.
In 2005, while pursuing a post-graduation course in medical science, he says he discovered that some of the students, who had figured among the top ten in the entrance exam, hardly had any knowledge of the subject. All of them came from affluent families and lived in a common block of the college hostel, he says. He did not raise the matter then because, he says, he was their junior.
Four years later, in 2009, he again smelt a rat. Some PMT papers, he learnt, were about to be leaked. It was like a rerun of the exam he had taken in 1993. He says that he immediately tipped off the Indore crime branch. A case was registered. Later, he filed complaints in similar cases, alleging that impersonators were coming from other states and appearing in PMT on behalf of candidates.
He, along with Paras Saklecha, then the MLA from Ratlam, raised the issue, and in December 2009 Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan set up a committee to look into the matter. In its report in November 2011, the committee said that 114 candidates had cleared PMT with the help of impersonators-doctors or talented senior students. Like his seniors in the hostel, these candidates too belonged to affluent families.
By 2012, Rai and Saklecha compiled the names of the impersonators through the Right to Information Act or by seeking replies in the state assembly. Almost all impersonators reportedly revealed that they worked on behalf of Jagdish Sagar, the doctor who is the alleged mastermind of the scam.
Rai, who is an ophthalmologist, has accused the state government of trying to silence the whistleblowers. His fight, he says, has cost him a great deal. In August 2010, he says, he was fired from the government-owned Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital in Indore for "instigating" a strike of doctors. "Instead of taking action against the president of the association, they sacked me even though I was only a patron of the association," he says. Later, he joined as medical officer in the Regional Health and Family Welfare Training Centre in Indore.
Rai, whose wife is also a doctor, says besides his own safety, he fears for his family. He also says that he does not rule out the possibility of poisoning in the deaths of Narendra Singh Tomar, an accused in the scam, and journalist Akshay Singh. More than 30 deaths have been allegedly linked to the scandal. On Thursday, the Supreme Court transferred the investigation into the scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Vyapam scam is not the only issue Rai has raised. He has also drawn attention to the alleged irregularities in drug trials in Indore. According to reports, since 2005, Rai has filed more than 1,000 RTI applications, including those concerning the mess in drug trials. His fight is far from over.