In MP extortion case, SIT says ‘difficult to identify women in videos’

The SIT member said they were trying to find out whether the women in videos were part of a gang or they were lured by one of the accused Monica Yadav.
Monica Yadav, one of the accused in honey trap gang case who was arrested on Thursday.(PTI Photo)
Monica Yadav, one of the accused in honey trap gang case who was arrested on Thursday.(PTI Photo)
Published on Sep 30, 2019 06:19 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bhopal | By Shruti Tomar

The special investigation team (SIT) probing an alleged extortion case involving several high profile people in Madhya Pradesh is finding it difficult to identify young women in about 1000 videos recovered from gang members, said a member.

The SIT member said they were trying to find out whether these women were a part of the gang or they were lured by one of the accused Monica Yadav, who has lodged a case against other gang members for forcing her into the scandal.

“It is necessary to identify the women in the videos to expedite the investigation to know the magnitude of the crime and reach of the gang members in other states,” the member said.

Investigation so far has shown that the young women were asked to join the non-government organisations run by the gang members and were then introduced to high profile people to shoot obscene videos, found in the phones of the gang members.

Names of several politicians and bureaucrats are doing the rounds as targets of the honey trap gang that operated from Bhopal and had its network in at least three states. The SIT members, however, have neither confirmed or denied these claims.

Six members of the extortion gang, including five women, were arrested on September 18 and 19 from Indore and Bhopal after an engineer of the Indore Municipal Corporation lodged a police complaint.

Those arrested are Aarti Dayal, Monica Yadav, Omprakash Kori, Shweta Swapanil Jain, Shweta Vijay Jain, and Barkha Soni Bhatnagar.

Also read: Extortion victims helped gang land govt contracts, say police

“The investigation is going on at multiple levels as there are many layers in the scandal and a large number of people are involved in it. We are trying to nab two other accused who have been identified as Abhishek and Rupa,” SIT member and Indore’s senior superintendent of police Ruchi Vardhan Mishra said.

The police said the gang not only extorted money but also got key government contracts with the help of influential persons they had honey-trapped.

The NGOs run by the gang members were also under SIT’s scanner. The probe team is scrutinising the source of funds and projects given to the NGOs run by the gang members, another SIT member said.

The second SIT member said the main accused, Shweta Vijay Jain, who has been operating the gang since 2013, used to run an NGO for women and child development and Shweta Swapnil Jain ran an NGO in the field of education. Barkha Soni Bhatnagar ran an NGO that worked in the field of agriculture.

“The NGOs received funds from different departments of Madhya Pradesh. Even during the demonetisation, one NGO received a huge fund. This is being probed,” the second SIT member said.

“So far, the gang members have informed that Shweta Vijay Jain from Sagar used to look after all the activities of the gang. We are yet to reach any conclusion on the name of the mastermind as different names are being taken by the gang members as the mastermind. Shweta Vijay Jain is one of the oldest members of this gang,” Mishra said.

An SIT member said the investigation in the case was being monitored by chief minister Kamal Nath. The chief minister’s media adviser, Narendra Saluja, confirmed this.

“The chief minister Kamal Nath is monitoring the probe of the scandal. This is a blot on our society and the probe will clean it by sending all the accused behind the bars,” Saluja said.

The police remand of Shweta Vijay Jain, Shweta Swapnil Jain and Barkha Soni end on Monday while that of Aarti Dayal and Monica Yadav will end on Wednesday.

According to an Indore police officer, fresh arrests would be made of all the accused excluding Monica on Wednesday.

“As Monica has become an approver and she is a victim of human trafficking, we will make a plea before the court for her release,” said the officer.

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Monday, October 18, 2021