Chhattisgarh CM appoints journalist linked to blackmailing case as political advisor
On Thursday, senior journalist Vinod Verma, whose name had cropped in the ‘sex CD’ episode last yeara, was appointed as political advisor to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
An official statement from the The General Administration Department (GAD) stated that it appointed four advisors to the chief minister, and Vinod Verma is one of them.
Although Verma was appointed as political advisor to Baghel, another journalist Ruchir Garg, who quit as an editor of a Hindi daily and joined the Congress ahead of the recently concluded assembly polls, was named media advisor to the Congress chief minister.
Besides Vinod Verma and Ruchir Garg, Pradip Sharma was appointed as planning, policy, agriculture and rural development advisor and Rajesh Tiwari as parliamentary advisor to Baghel, the statement said.
A close confident of Baghel, Vinod Verma was arrested from Ghaziabad in October 2017 by the Raipur police after a case of blackmailing and extortion was registered at the Pandri Police Station in Raipur on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prakash Bajaj.
In his allegation, Bajaj had stated that he was ‘being harassed over phone by an unidentified caller’, who told him he had a CD of his ‘aaka’ (master).
Follwing the allegations against Verma, the police had claimed to have recovered 500 CDs and some pen drives from Verma’s residence during a raid.
It is also reported that after Verma’s arrest, a ‘sex CD’, purportedly featuring the then PWD Minister Rajesh Munat, had surfaced in Raipur.
Though, Munat had termed the CD as ‘fake’ and alleged it was made and circulated to tarnish his image. Later, he had filed a complaint against Baghel, the then state Congress president.
Apparently, on recommendation of the then BJP government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the investigation of two cases related to the circulation of the CD.
In December last year, Verma was released on bail after the police failed to file a charge sheet against him in the mandatory 60 days.
Notably, in September this year, the CBI had filed the charge sheet in a special court in Raipur in the case, naming Baghel, Verma and three others as accused.
One more accused, Rinku Khanuja, had allegedly committed suicide in June this year, while the investigation was going on. According to the charge sheet, all the accused were booked under IPC sections 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 67A of the IT Act (whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act).
Bhupesh Baghel and Vinod Verma had denied any involvement in the preparation or circulation of the CD.
Initially, Baghel had refused to apply for bail and stayed in judicial custody for a couple of days but later, the Congress leader said that he was falsely implicated in the case and obtained bail from the court.