Finally, the education scam probe has made a little progress. Even the accused, Ampareen Lyngdoh, has welcomed it saying she had been suffering the blemish for over a decade. It should come to a logical end. Even if she is guilty, as it appears, she would have nothing more to say! But she was perhaps right in terming a ‘well-calculated move’ the CBI booking her in the case along with additional chief secretary PS Thangkhiew. She made no bones about her denial to issuing any order to apply white ink in order to tamper with the scoresheets of teacher aspirants in 2007. It was alleged that the scoresheets were tampered with in order to facilitate recommendations from as many as 15 politicians. They recommended over 250 candidates with most being appointed, but terminated years after revelation of the scheme through a high court order.

With Ampareen pleading innocence and playing the victim card instead, it remains a big question as to under whose order the scoresheets were tampered with. And where from the CBI got the specific details of the names of politicians and the exact number of candidates recommended by them. Was it a coincidence that most of these candidates had been appointed before being terminated after a prolonged legal battle? Ampareen was the education minister then and she has no answer how did it happen, supposing she is innocent? The then director of elementary and mass education, JD Sangma, stated before the CBI that the scoresheets had been tampered with as per her order. According to Sangma, some of white-ink act was committed even at her residence. What vested interests the senior government official had to ‘make up such a story’ at the cost of earning a serving minister’s wrath is not clear.

However, the CBI must be neutral in going ahead with the probe. Naming only Ampareen, who being the then education minister of course has to be booked, has already given rise to speculation about a political force acting behind. Although recommending names for jobs is a lesser crime than appointing them on such recommendation, can’t there be an angle of bribery, cash or kind. What it only ‘generosity’ that prompted the politicians, who are now in different camps including BJP and NPP, to recommend candidates in dozens. Former UDP MLA Remington Pyngrope, who recently joined the NPP, had recommended as many as 47 names! The second in the list with 37 candidates was none but the current deputy chief minister RC Laloo, who decided to quit electoral politics ‘to pave way for new generation’. The same number was recommended by former minister Sniawbhalang Dhar, who recently joined the NPP bandwagon. While CBI is expected to expedite the probe nailing the culprits, it is also hoped that none irrespective of political affiliation should escape its dragnet.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 6, 2018)

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