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Uttarakhand editor arrested for ‘extortion’ is known for sting ops, was held on rape charge

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Umesh Kumar Sharma, of Samachar Plus channel, carried out a sting on former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat which was used to bring down his govt in 2016.

New Delhi: The editor-in-chief and CEO of Samachar Plus channel, Umesh Kumar Sharma, arrested for alleged extortion Sunday, has a history of carrying out sting operations. One of those stings, on former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat, was among the reasons the Modi government cited in 2016 to impose President’s rule in the then Congress-ruled state.

Sharma, who has been enjoying ‘Y’ category government security for three years now, has a controversial past, including being arrested for allegedly raping a woman on the pretext of marriage earlier this year.

He has denied the charges, claiming he was being framed in a false case.

A former property developer, Sharma is also known to boast of his strong connections to the Lutyens elite and is understood to be close to top politicians across parties, bureaucrats and film stars.

He was arrested Sunday from his Ghaziabad residence and sent to 15-day judicial custody for allegedly pressuring one of his employees to carry out sting operations on senior politicians from Uttarakhand, including the chief minister as well as bureaucrats, with the alleged intention of blackmail and extortion. The FIR mentions four other people besides him.

Around Rs 39.73 lakh in cash, $16,279, 11,030 Thai Baht, mobile phones, hard disc, pen drives, memory cards, an iPad, a laptop and a camera were seized from Sharma’s office and residence, police officials have said.

Also read: Samachar Plus editor-in-chief arrested for allegedly blackmailing politicians & bureaucrats

The Rawat sting

Sharma shot to fame for carrying out a sting on former Uttarakhand chief minister Rawat, which purportedly showed him negotiating a deal with a journalist allegedly to bribe legislators to buy their support before a floor test in the state assembly.

The video was one of the reasons the Modi government cited to oust Rawat and bring the hill state under President’s rule on 27 March, 2016.

The news head’s political connections are evident from the fact that his e-paper platform was inaugurated by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in 2016. His channel Samachar Plus operates mainly in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Sources close to him said Sharma’s focus has always been on stings ever since he began his journalism career. That was his biggest tool to get even with someone, who he did not get along with, the sources said.

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