It’s a classic case of a whistleblower getting branded as a culprit and thrown behind bars. Yuvrajsinh Jadeja, 35, student activist-turned-politician, has been arrested by the Bhavnagar district police in Gujarat for extortion and criminal conspiracy.
His brother-in-law Shivbhadrasinh alias Shivubha Gohil, one of the accused in the ₹1-crore extortion racket case, in which Jadeja is being charged with, surrendered before the Neelam Baug police station in Bhavnagar on Tuesday (April 25). The district court has sent the duo to seven days in police custody.
This major twist in the ongoing recruitment exam scam case in Gujarat comes a week after Jadeja, an AAP youth wing leader in the state, unveiled an alleged racket involving the practice of providing dummy candidates for a fee to sit for government recruitment and board examinations in Bhavnagar.
AAP has criticised the move to arrest the whistleblower. Party leaders in Gujarat have accused the ruling BJP government of trying to silence Jadeja by arresting him.
A Bhavnagar police official told The Federal, “Yuvrajsinh Jadeja was first detained late night on April 21 and after a long interrogation he was finally arrested. Yesterday, Bhavnagar police arrested Jadeja’s relative and a few others in the matter.” He added that an FIR has been lodged against all of them.
Jadeja and a few others are essentially accused of extorting ₹1 crore from two prime accused in the dummy candidate racket for not making their names public at a press conference. (A dummy candidate would appear for a regular candidate in recruitment exams, or for one who has failed in one or two papers of Class 10 or 12 board exams.)
The FIR against Jadeja and others has been registered under Sections 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt), 388 (extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life ) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
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According to the FIR, Jadeja received information about the dummy candidates who had appeared in the junior clerk recruitment examination held in Bhavnagar on April 16 this year. After that, he threatened to expose the scam and demanded ₹70 lakh from one Prakash Dave who ran the racket, said the FIR.
Dummy candidate racket
Allegedly, the racket was being run by Prakash Dave alias PK and Baldev Rathod, who would forge hall tickets of candidates for recruitment as well as board examinations and send dummy candidates to sit for the exam on behalf of a person. The charges per person varied from ₹5 lakh to ₹10 lakh, stated the FIR.
The police have also charged Jadeja of accepting ₹1 crore from a dummy candidate. Noticeably, the candidate has not been named in the FIR. The candidate, as per the FIR, was part of the racket.
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Earlier, Jadeja’s name did not figure in the dummy candidate scam. Bhavnagar police had arrested four people, all government employees, stating that the scam was going on since 2012. The four arrested — including Sharad Kumar Panot, a teacher in government school near Bhavnagar, PK, and Pradeep Baraiya, a clerk in local court — were named as the masterminds of the scam by the police.
A case of vendetta
Meanwhile, Jadeja has denied all the allegations of receiving money and accused the police of “vendetta” since he had exposed several recruitment exam scams in Gujarat. In a press statement before his arrest Jadeja said, “The entire case is politically motivated to implicate me as I exposed multiple recruitment scams in the state.” His colleagues in AAP have accused the state government of trying to silence Jadeja.
“Jadeja has been instrumental in revealing multiple recruitment scams in Gujarat since he was a student himself. He joined AAP last year, a few months ahead of the state polls. There is no doubt that the government is harassing him for exposing the scams in recruitment exams in Gujarat,” Gopal Italia, AAP national joint secretary, told The Federal.
Reshma Patel, AAP leader who was formerly an aide of Hardik Patel during the Patidar agitation of 2017, also felt that Jadeja is being targeted to prevent him from speaking out.
“Instead of arresting the real culprits, the government’s move to slap him with charges of extortion and criminal conspiracy raises questions on the intention of the BJP government,“ said Patel.
Paper leak menace
The recruitment exams in Gujarat have been in the eye of the storm for a while now. If the dummy candidates scam is one, the paper leaks is another.
The entrance examination paper for the position of junior clerks conducted by Gujarat Panchayat Service Selection Board (GPSSB) was leaked hours ahead of its commencement on January 29 this year. This was the 13th paper leak case involving government recruitment examinations in the state since 2014.
After a ruckus by the Opposition Congress and AAP over this issue, the BJP government had passed The Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Methods) Bill, 2023 in February.