Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Police have arrested five women and a man for allegedly extorting politicians and senior government officials by making obscene videos of them. With their alleged political links coming to light, mudslinging has started between the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
The alleged ring leader, Shweta Vijay Jain, who is from Sagar, was arrested from a house owned by BJP MLA Brajendra Pratap Singh in the posh Riviera Township in state capital Bhopal.
After the arrest, Singh, the MLA for Panna in the Bundelkhand region, clarified: “I used to live there with my family till last month but we decided to move out and took help of a broker to look for a tenant. My broker introduced the Jain family to me, who had been living in the Riviera Township for a long time. They moved into my house on 1 September.”
Another arrested woman is Barkha Soni, wife of Amit Soni, former vice-president of the state Congress social media and IT department. Abhay Tiwari, chairman of the same department, showed the media a document to prove that Amit Soni had been sacked by the party in June.
The Madhya Pradesh government, headed by Kamal Nath, has constituted a special investigation team to probe the racket, even as the regional media are circulating purported videos of women with the officials and politicians purported to have been trapped by the women.
The list of persons allegedly snared by the accused include a former governor, a former chief minister and state ministers, a former MP, a former organisational secretary of the state BJP, a senior IAS officer posted in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat under Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s previous BJP government, and a former collector of Sagar district. The accused allegedly shot videos of them in compromising positions and reportedly extorted crores of rupees from them.
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Indore’s Senior Superintendent of Police Ruchi Vardhan Mishra told mediapersons that apart from money, Jain also claimed to have got transfers, postings and other benefits for candidates she projected.
“It is shocking how these women have a grip over the system and how easily they operate,” Mishra said.
The Congress focused its attack on the BJP, with former chief minister Digvijaya Singh alleging that Jain was a former general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing.
“When Jitu Jerati was president of Madhya Pradesh unit of BJP, was Shweta Vijay Jain the general secretary or not?” Digvijaya asked, demanding an investigation.
He also asked who was the president of the Maharashtra unit of the BJYM at the time, and who Jain was “staying with in Maharashtra when a video of her went viral”.
Responding to this, Jerati, vice-president of the state BJP, said Jain was one of the 325 members of the BJYM’s state working committee while he was president between 2009 and 2013.
“Shweta was not the general secretary of the state BJYM. Mr Singh should take this matter seriously, and since it’s their government, he should ensure that accused are punished and the innocent get justice,” he said.
Other leaders from the two parties also got in on the act, with public relations minister P.C. Sharma saying the case involves “former BJP ministers”. “There is a conspiracy to trap Congress MLAs and ministers. The BJP was trying to destabilise the government,” Sharma said.
Meanwhile, BJP state spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said the Kamal Nath government should take action irrespective of political inclination.
“It seems that Congress is attempting character-assassination through this racket. The Congress should take action, no one is going to stop them,” he said.
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