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Raj Kundra planned to launch another app to circulate porn: Cops

Mumbai: Days after businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra was arrested, the Mumbai Police on Wednesday said that Kundra, his brother-in-law Pardeep Bakshi and their manager Umesh Kamat had plans to launch ‘Bollyfame’, a mobile application to circulate pornographic content from February 20 this year
By Manish K Pathak
PUBLISHED ON JUL 22, 2021 01:05 AM IST

Mumbai: Days after businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra was arrested, the Mumbai Police on Wednesday said that Kundra, his brother-in-law Pardeep Bakshi and their manager Umesh Kamat had plans to launch ‘Bollyfame’, a mobile application to circulate pornographic content from February 20 this year. However, the plan was dropped after Kamat’s arrest on February 7, police said.

A crime branch officer said that according on the investigation so far, Kundra and his associates started working on a new app after Apple and Google stores removed some of the apps last year and Maharashtra cybercrime officers booked directors and owners of various over-the-top (OTT) platforms and websites for allegedly showing obscene content.

The officer added that the accused even created a WhatsApp group in the name of the proposed application ‘Bollyfame’ and that Kundra had revealed his plans on the group to Kamat and others. As per Kamat’s statement to police, initially they wanted to launch the live streaming in January 2021, but it was postponed till February 20, the officer said.

In his statement, Kamat also revealed that Kundra had told them that they would shut down the Hotshot app and remove the obscene contents to avoid the investigation, the officer added.

The racket came to light after the property cell of the Mumbai police registered a case on February 4 based on the inputs about filming of porn at a bungalow in Madh Island. The cell raided the bungalow and arrested five persons, including two women who were caught in compromising position. Police claimed to have rescued a young woman, who was allegedly lured by an offer to act in a short film.

During the investigation, police also found the alleged involvement of actor and model Gehana Vashisht. Police arrested Kamat after Vashisht revealed that he bought adult contents from her and sent them to the United Kingdom for uploading on Hotshot. Kamat led the police to Kundra.

On Tuesday, the property cell inspected Kundra’s office in Andheri and seized the server and several other electronic equipment. Police said they are now scrutinising evidence seized from Kundra’s office including subscription hits, WhatsApp chats, agreement papers, emails and account details.

The crime branch has so far frozen various bank accounts with deposits worth around 7.5 crore, including 3 crore in a bank account of wanted accused Yash Thakur, a native of Madhya Pradesh, currently residing in Singapore. The officer said he was running the app Neuflik.

Another police officer said the groups mainly targeted young women coming from outside to the city to try their luck in the film and television industry. Police officers said taking advantage of their desperation and helplessness, the accused allegedly lured them by offering roles in short films or web series. Initially, they would ask them to perform some “bold” scenes, but eventually either offer them more money to act in porn films or threaten them with the help of agreements, if they refused to budge.

The officers said the gang has exploited many women and men by making several pornography contents.

Kundra, along with one Sourabh Kushwah, according to the remand application, had in February 2019 started a company namely, Arms Prime Media Pvt Ltd. Around six months later, the company developed the mobile app Hotshot, and later sold it to Kenrin Ltd., a London-based entity owned by Kundra’s relative Pardeep Bakshi for $25,000. In December 2019, Kundra resigned from Arms Prime Media, after which, one Sanjay Tripathi, a witness in the case, took it over, police said.

The mobile phone app, available only to paid subscribers, was used to upload pornographic content, shot in Mumbai and surrounding areas, police claimed.

The remand application added that other accused and witnesses in the case have revealed that the pornographic films shot in Mumbai were transferred to Kenrin, London, from where the obscene content was uploaded on the Hotshot app. Kundra controlled the entire operation of the app through three WhatsApp groups that he had created in the name of “HS,” and that Kundra was the administrator of these WhatsApp groups.

Police on Monday night arrested Kundra and one Ryan Thorpe, a Nerul resident and an expert in information technology, who allegedly helped maintain the mobile phone application through two of his associates. Both Kundra and Thorpe are in police custody till July 23 for further investigation.

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