Chh'garh cops pick up ex-BBC scribe at 3:30 am, spark row
Ghaziabad/ Raipur: Former BBC Hindi Service and Amar Ujala journalist Vinod Verma was arrested from his residence at Mahagun Mansion Apartments in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, at 3:30 am on Friday by Chhattisgarh Police, which alleged that he was involved in blackmail and extortion related to a "sex CD" involving Chhattisgarh PWD minister Rajesh Munot. Verma, who is also a member of Editors Guild of India, was produced before Ghaziabad Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Archna, who denied him bail and granted Chhattisgarh Police his transit remand till October 30.
As Verma was being escorted by the police, he claimed that the Chhattisgarh government was framing him on false charges as it suspected that he had a "sex CD of Rajesh Munot". Munot, however, charged that the CD was "fake" and an "attempt at character assassination".
Raipur Superintendent of Police (SP) Sanjeev Shukla said that about 500 "porn" CDs, Rs 2 lakh in cash, a pen drive, a laptop and a diary were seized from Verma's residence and he has been booked under Section 67 (A) of the Information Technology (IT) Act for possessing pornographic material.
The Congress immediately reacted to the developments, accusing Chhatisgarh's ruling BJP regime of trying to implicate Verma on false charges, adding that this was yet another brazen example of the BJP's onslaught against Press freedom. Demanding the "victimised" scribe's immediate release, senior Congress Spokesman Ajay Maken also demanded a judicial probe into the "serious sex-related allegations" against the Chhattisgarh minister, which, he added, were being investigated by Verma.
"The Narendra Modi-led Central Government and the Chhattisgarh government have been attacking, squeezing Press freedom... We strongly condemn Verma's arrest and demand that he be released immediately and a judicial probe into the allegations against the Chhattisgarh BJP minister announced," added Maken.
Meanwhile, the minister at the centre of the controversy, Rajesh Munot, called a Press conference in Raipur and demanded that the CD be examined for its genuineness and action taken against "those involved in this conspiracy". Chhattisgarah BJP Spokesman Shivratan Sharma alleged that state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel was part of "the conspiracy" involving the "fake CD".
On the other hand, Baghel demanded Munot's resignation over the issue and claimed that the FIR did not name Vinod Verma.