Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday assured a probe by Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has been investigating the massive irregularities in Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or the Vyapam scam, into the sudden death of TV journalist Akshay Singh even as Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley sought "a very fair inquiry".
Chouhan, Jaitley and other BJP leaders reacted on the issue following an onslaught by the Opposition questioning the efficiency of the SIT as well as the state government's intent amid continuously rising deaths of people connected to the MPPEB scam.
"We are going to write a letter to the SIT probing Vyapam scam to investigate death of the TV journalist... Probe into Vyapam scam is being done under the supervision of high court. State government cannot override the orders of high court or Supreme Court," Chouhan told reporters on the question of handing over the case of Aaj Tak reporter Akshay Singh's sudden death to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"I am proud that we attempted to clean the system, as a result of which things like these (Vyapam scam) came to the forefront," Chouhan was quoted as saying by the ANI.
Talking to ANI, Jaitley offered his condolences to the family members, colleagues and friends of the late TV journalist. It is a "matter of deep sorrow that a very competent journalist died while performing his duty as an investigative journalist", he said.
"Since various issues are being raised with regard to circumstances of his (TV journalist's) death, it would be important that a very fair inquiry is held so that all doubts can be set at rest," Jaitley told ANI.
Reacting to the Congress leaders' attack, BJP leader Nalin Kohli asked whether the Congress did not have faith in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which is monitoring the investigation into Vyapam scam.
Journalist's funeral in Delhi
Earlier in the day, the body of Aaj Tak reporter Akshay Singh was flown into the national capital. Apart from his family members and friends, many politicians and journalists from various media houses gathered for his funeral at Delhi's Nigambodh Ghat.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia were among the leaders present at the crematorium for the last rites of Singh.
AAP demands SIT probe monitored by SC
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said both the journalist's death and Vyapam scam must be probed by an SIT under the Supreme Court's regular monitoring.
AAP member Alok Agrawal, however, demanded a CBI inquiry into the journalist's death as well as of the people connected to Vyapam scam.
Another AAP leader, Dilip Pandey, also insisted on an SIT probe monitored by the SC. He also urged the Centre to "immediately remove" MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav from his post.
Congress suspects use of polonium
Like the AAP, Congress also sought an SIT probe monitored by the Supreme Court even as party leader Manish Tewari suspected the use of deadly radioactive element polonium.
"I wonder if this is polonium or some other mysterious substance all the way... The moot question is that nobody trusts MP government or the chief minister's word unfortunately," the former I &B minister was quoted by TV channels as saying.
"How can 40 people die under mysterious circumstances? Are we living in India or a banana republic," Tewari asked.
Digvijaya dares Chouhan to refer case to CBI
Senior Congress leader and former MP chief minister Digvijaya Singh said the party did not trust Gujarat forensic science laboratory or any other state lab in the case of journalist's death. He said the viscera must be examined by senior doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and it be recorded.
"Madhya Pradesh chief minister said he has no issues with a CBI inquiry. If that is true then he must write to the home minister and ask for a CBI probe in Vyapam," Digvijaya was quoted as saying by TV channels.
Another senior party leader PC Chacko said Vyapam scam "is becoming the most horrible scam in the history of the country". Who will investigate the role of the chief minister, he asked, adding that it was the most crucial point.