Senior journalist Vinod Verma was arrested by the Chhattisgarh Police from his Ghaziabad residence at 3.30 am today on charges of blackmail and extortion, police said.
About 500 porn CDs, Rs 2 lakh in cash, a pen drive, a laptop and a diary were seized from the journalists residence, said Raipur District Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Shukla.
Verma, who earlier worked with BBC Hindi service and Amar Ujala, claimed that the Chhattisgarh Police was not happy with him because he had a “sex CD of a Chhattisgarh minister”.
Asked to comment on accusations that he was making CDs, Verma told journalists while being taken from the Indirapuram Police Station to court, “just pen drive… nothing else. I have nothing to with CDs. CD is in the public domain.”
Verma was picked from Mahagun Mansion Apartments in Indirapuram, on the outskirts of the national capital, by a team of the Chhattisgarh Police with the help of the Ghaziabad Police, Senior Superintendent of Police (Ghaziabad) H N Singh said.
According to Singh, a case of blackmail and extortion has been registered against the scribe at Pandri police station in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh. Raipur DSP Shukla added that Verma has been booked under the Information Technology (IT) Act. The complainant, he said, was a man named Prakash Bajaj. Bajaj is reportedly associated with the BJP IT cell.
“He had lodged a complaint at the Pandri police station that he was being harassed over phone by an unidentified caller who told him that he had a CD of his master,” Shukla told PTI.
Bajaj had told police that the caller threatened to distribute the CD if he was not given what he asked for, Shukla said. He said search teams were sent to Delhi to trace the scribe.
“During the probe, the police came to know about a shop where the CD in question was copied. The shopkeeper told the police that one Vinod Verma had got 1,000 copies made of the CD,” Shukla said.
They then contacted their Ghaziabad counterparts and arrested the scribe from his house, and recovered the CDs and other material, he said.
As news of the arrest spread, many senior journalists from the electronic and print media gathered outside the Ghaziabad police station.
AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh termed the development an “attack on the press”.
In a tweet tagging the Uttar Pradesh Police, the journalist-turned-politician said Verma was arrested in a “mysterious” way and that the move amounted to attack on press freedom.