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Madhya Pradesh: High profile honey-trapping network busted, Congress IT cell state coordinator involved

The accused Shweta even tried to get an election ticket from Sagar but failed after her MMS went viral on the internet. One of the gang's recent victims was a top IAS official from whom she was allegedly trying to extort Rs. 2 crore.

A high-profile honey-trapping racket that blackmailed and exhorted top politicians and government officials with videos was busted by Madhya Pradesh police officials in Bhopal on Wednesday night. Five women, including the wife of a former Congress IT cell vice-president, have been arrested in connection with the case, reports Times of India.

According to the reports, the Madhya Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) and the Bhopal Police in a joint operation nabbed the honey-trapping extortion network in Bhopal on Wednesday for allegedly blackmailing politicians and high ranking government officials after discreetly recording their private videos, in which, the wife of a former Congress IT cell vice-president was also involved.

The arrested women in the honey-trapping racket are identified as 39-year-old Shweta Vijay Jain, 48-year-old Shweta Swapnil Jain, 35-year-old Barkha Soni (wife of former Congress IT cell vice-president), 34-year-old Aarti Dayal and an 18-year-old college student. Omprakash Kori, 34, who drives Aarti Dayal’s car was also arrested.

Reportedly, the honey trapping racket targeted only wealthy individuals and focused on politicians and bureaucrats. The racket was allegedly operated by Shweta Jain, who runs a local NGO and lives in the house of BJP MLA Brijendra Pratap Singh on rent.

The BJP MLA has issued a clarification. “I used to live there with my family till last month but we moved out and hired a broker to look for some tenants. My broker introduced the Jain family to me, who had been living in Riviera for a long time. They moved into my house on September 1”, he said.

One of the women is identified as Barkha Soni, is the wife of former Congress IT cell vice-president Amit Soni. Under the garb of running an NGO, the women made friends with influential people, who they later honey trapped and then blackmailed for cash and favours. Interestingly, only after the honey-trapping story broke yesterday, Congress released a letter dated June 15th that said that Amit Soni had been suspended for ‘anti-party activities’.

Interestingly, Barkha Soni, apart from being the wife of Amit Soni who was the Congress IT cell vice-president was involved with Mahila Congress and was the state coordinator of Congress IT cell in Madhya Pradesh herself.

Appointment of Barkha Bhatnagar Soni

Barkha’s Facebook profile also mentions that she works with Mahila Congress and she has pictures with several Congress leaders.

The accused Shweta even tried to get an election ticket from Sagar but failed after her MMS went viral on the internet. One of the gang’s recent victims was a top IAS official from whom she was allegedly trying to extort Rs. 3 crore.

The racket was busted after an Indore Municipal Corporation officer – Harbhajan Singh filed a complaint against Aarti Dayal. They were allegedly making extortion demand of Rs.3 crore from him. When Dayal along with another woman, came to Indore to allegedly receive Rs. 50 lakh as the first instalment of the extortion sum, she was arrested, the police said. Others were arrested following their interrogation.

The Police have seized laptops, mobile phones, documents and video evidence from the house of the gang leader. “All the accused were produced before a court in Indore on Thursday and are now in police custody,” a top police official said.

During the interrogation, the women revealed how they targeted high-profile individuals across the state. “They revealed information about three other women operating from Bhopal, following which help from the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) was sought,” said SSP Bhopal.

A report in Dainik Bhaskar stated that the women were used to a very expensive lifestyle. Most of the accused have luxury cars and they live in posh housing societies. The police have also recovered cash worth 14 lakhs from the house of one of the accused. The video clips and 8 political leaders and at least 5 high profile government officials have reportedly been recovered from the accused.

Recently, the Bengaluru police had arrested two people, including a TV journalist, for kidnapping and robbing a 68-year-old man from Hubbali. The prime accused, Ranjitha, a TV anchor had got in touch with the victim through social media. She and her associates then planned to honey-trap him and extort money, said police.

A senior police officer said that TV Anchor Ranjitha befriended the victim and invited him for a two-day trip to Bengaluru. On August 25, he came to Bengaluru to meet her and the duo booked a cab to a resort on Kanakapura Road.

Note: This article has been updated with relevant information

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