29 September 2019
Bhopal: The probe into the Madhya Pradesh honey-trap scandal seems to have run into a controversy following a face-off between state police chief V.K. Singh and his peer-in-rank Purushottam Sharma.
According to reports, Chief Minister Kamal Nath might announce a change in the police hierarchy this week.
Singh recently got a house rented by Sharma in Ghaziabad vacated amid reports that it was linked to the racket. Sharma, Special Director General of the Special Task Force (STF) and Cyber Cell, has protested and demanded that the Director General of Police (DGP) be prevented from overseeing the case.
Sharma wants the special investigation team (SIT) probing the case be supervised by an official of the rank of the Director General who is not under the state police's control.
"The SIT has been plagued by controversies, right from the beginning. At first, it was headed by an IG-CID, then an ADG-rank officer was made its head and, subsequently, its members were also changed. Later, a flat housing the cyber cell's guesthouse was linked to the sex scandal," he said.
Sharma claimed the position of the DGP had become "untenable" under such circumstances. "In the wake of such controversies, it's in the interests of justice that supervision of the SIT be handed to a DG-rank official who doesn't report to state police headquarters.
"As the cyber cell and the STF operations are sensitive in nature, their location-specific details (like where they stay during special operations) shouldn't be made public because its ramifications could be serious," he said.
Sharma has also written a letter to the Indian Police Service Association in this connection. The Madhya Pradesh DGP has, however, refused to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, SIT chief Sanjiv Shami continued to interrogate the five accused on Saturday night. Three of them were taken to Sagar to cross-check statements on the director of an NGO who benefited from contracts earned through the gang.
A new woman, Rupa Ahirwar, is also under scanner for helping Arti Dayal, who was among the first to be arrested nearly a fortnight ago.
The sex scandal, which resulted in arrest of five women along with their driver, had the accused luring powerful people into sexual relationships and subsequent blackmail. Many people ended up facilitating transfer of lucrative government projects to the clients of the accused.
The SIT is now trying to trace the money trail of the accused as well as their travel history over the last few years. According to the police, one of them even made trips to Nepal, Dubai and a European country. On the Nepal trip, she was allegedly accompanied by a former MP Minister.
Investigators are probing four bank accounts and two lockers, held by two of the operatives, to trace the money trail.
The police are baffled by the sophistry and range of spy cameras the honey-trapping gang used on numerous occasions. They came covered in lipstick shells, sunglasses and of course phones and found wealthy and powerful victims absolutely unawares.
Indore Senior Superintendent of Police Ruchi Vardhan Misra did admit that gang used spy cameras, which have been seized, but refused to discuss the gadgets in detail.
The purported clips covering over 135 hours, some of which have flooded the social media, have been shot in beds in a cosy environs. Some hazy clips that appear to be morphed have also gone viral.