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Tip-off about porn racket in February, women lured with roles, Raj Kundra and his personal involvement: What led to his arrest and what we know so far

The WhatsApp conversation of Raj Kundra have revealed that the he had devised a back up plan to broadcast pornographic films after his Hotshots app was taken down by both Google and Apple store.

On Monday, the British-Indian businessman and husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty – Raj Kundra was arrested by the Mumbai Police on charges of creating pornographic films and publishing them through mobile apps.

According to the reports, Raj Kundra is accused of being a key conspirator in creating and published pornographic content online. The Mumbai Police officials investigating the porn film racket case involving Raj Kundra have alleged that he has made over 100 porn movies in the last one-and-a-half-year.

The Crime branch officials said they have recovered “huge data” of porn movies, running into terabytes (TB) during their raids at Raj Kundra’s office in Andheri West, Mumbai. The police have also seized the server and devices allegedly used to store this data. At least 70 adult movies have been recovered from the server.

The Mumbai officials alleged that Raj Kundra entered the porn industry in August 2019 and earned crores through them. The arrest of Raj Kundra comes months after Mumbai Police had initiated a coordinated probe into the porn film racket case. The case is under investigation since the beginning of this year.

Mumbai Police received tip-off in February, conducted coordinated probe to unearth porn racket

According to the reports, the Mumbai Police first received a tip-off on February 4, saying a porn movie was being shot at a bungalow in Madh Island. During the surprise raid on the bungalow that followed, the police found two persons in a state of undress being filmed in intimate poses.

The Mumbai Police had arrested five men from the spot, and a woman was rescued from the house that day. The latter was made a complainant in the case, which eventually led to the arrest of businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband, Raj Kundra, five months later on July 19.

According to the police, the five accused would lure aspiring actresses, especially those who came from rural areas of Maharashtra or Jharkhand, promising them roles in web series. On the day of the shoot, the accused would eventually inform the victims that the script had been changed. Later, they would force them to undress and shoot intimate scenes.

If any of them refused to indulge in such movies, the accused would threaten them with the bill for setting up the shooting. As these women came from humble backgrounds, most of these women would succumb to the pressure, the police had said. After forcefully shooting the pornographic content, the accused used to upload them on mobile applications like Hot Hit Movies and Hotshots.

The accused offered monthly subscriptions through these apps similar to mainstream OTT platforms and also earned revenue through paid advertisements on their social media platforms. In June 2020, the Apple Store and Google Play Store removed the apps after receiving complaints saying the apps were streaming pornographic material.

Adult movies were shot in a bungalow, sold films to foreign entities: Mumbai Police

During the probe, the Crime Branch found that these adult movies were shot in a day at rented bungalows on the outskirts of Mumbai, usually Madh Island. A staff of five to six people, who doubled up as directors, dialogue writers, web app developers and assistants, worked in making the films. As the accused uploaded the content regularly, these apps became especially popular, with some of them having more than a lakh subscribers.

During the course of its investigation, the Mumbai Police focused on producers and others who assisted in the process of shooting. The Mumbai Police had arrested nine people, including producer Rowa Khan, small-time model and actor Gehana Vasisth.

Later, the crime branch started probing entities that bought such adult films. Upon the investigation, they came across a name called Umesh Kamat. The police arrested Umesh Kamat, who worked with UK-based Kenrin Pvt Ltd, a production company that owns the Hotshots app where some of these movies were uploaded. Umesh Kamat was a former personal assistant of Raj Kundra.

As Mumbai Police grilled Umesh Kamat and went through his call records, the Mumbai police found that Kenrin just owned the app, but Raj Kundra ran the operation through his Mumbai-based company Viaan Industries. The Mumbai Police filed a charge sheet filed in April, however, they did not name Kundra.

Umesh Kamat confessed that he uploaded at least eight “pornographic and obscene” videos shot by Gehna Vasisth on a social media app. The police suspect that Kundra has a stake in Kenrin.

The Mumbai Police subjected Kamat’s laptop to forensics which revealed more damning details about the involvement of Raj Kundra. The police team raided Kundra’s place on Monday and said they now have “incriminating evidence” to prove his involvement in the porn racket.

WhatsApp chats have revealed that Kundra had hatched a ‘Plan B’ for broadcasting pornographic films after app ban

According to a report by News18, the Whatsapp conversation of Raj Kundra have revealed that he had devised a backup plan to broadcast pornographic films after his Hotshots app was taken down by both Google and Apple store.

During the raids, the crime branch also recovered a server and 70 videos filmed by Kundra’s former assistant Umesh Kamat in association with other production houses. In total, Raj Kundra is believed to have produced more than 100 porn movies in the last few years.

The police have accessed a series of WhatsApp conversations allegedly belonging to Kundra, where he spoke about a standby plan of launching another OTT platform. The “Plan B” involved launching a new application to continue the illegal business of producing and circulating pornographic content.

The police have also analysed agreement papers, subscription details, emails, WhatsApp chats, etc. In one of the WhatsApp groups named “H ACCOUNTS”, he had discussed live revenue of Rs 1.85 lakh and movie sales of Rs 4.52 lakh, the police said. The police have accessed at least four screenshots of the WhatsApp chats in which Kundra was allegedly seen discussing his plans.

The screenshots read, “Plan B started max 2-3 weeks the new app will be live iOS and Android it’s a blessing”. During this conversation, a member named Rob Digital Marketing Hotshots asks Kundra, “until then, can we deactivate all the bold films and the Appeal again the Play store”.

In another screenshot, a member said to Kundra, “till BF (Bollyfame) is up, let’s find out a way to sustain HS (Hotshots).” Apparently, Kundra discussed of removing “extremely bold content” from the platform, for the time being, the Mumbai Police said.

On October 11, the members of the “H ACCOUNTS” WhatsApp group also discussed the live revenue of Rs 1.85 lakh and movie sales of Rs 4.52 lakh. Kundra and his brother-in-law Pradeep Bakshi appreciated the member.

The police have now sent the server for forensic analysis to know whether Raj Kundra used the servers to upload pornographic material to his UK-based shell company Kenrin. The police have asked the businessman to share his bank details. Meanwhile, Kundra’s bank accounts with deposits of around Rs.7.5 crore have been frozen by the police in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, the police have described Kundra as the “key conspirator” in the case that was registered on February 4 at the Malwani police station in suburban Mumbai. In all, 11 persons have been arrested so far in the case, the Mumbai police have said.

Raj Kundra has been booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292 and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays), besides relevant sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.

 

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