A special CBI court on Monday sent Chhattisgarh Congress president Bhupesh Baghel in judicial remand for 14 days for involvement in allegedly circulating a fake pornographic CD of state PWD minister Rajesh Munat.
While the charges against him were bailable, Baghel told the court that he is innocent, and since this is a political attack, he would not apply for bail or employ a lawyer, and will begin a satyagraha in jail. The court then sent him to judicial custody.
With Assembly polls now weeks away, this comes six days after a police crackdown on Congress workers in Bilaspur. After Baghel was sent to jail, the opposition party, dubbing the Raman Singh government in the state dictatorial, called for a mass “jail bharo andolan” on Tuesday.
The BJP asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to sack Baghel after the CBI named him in the chargesheet.
The chargesheet names four others, including former journalist Vinod Verma, who was arrested from his home in Ghaziabad at 3 am on October 27, 2017. Verma, now a consultant with the Congress, was charged with non-bailable sections of extortion on a complaint by BJP leader Prakash Bajaj 12 hours earlier. Bajaj alleged that he had received a phone call in which the caller threatened to release an explicit CD of his “aaka” (master) unless he paid money.
On Monday, 11 months later, the non-bailable extortion case found no mention in the CBI chargesheet. Verma told The Indian Express, “They put me in jail for two months, and said they had evidence – for something they haven’t even found enough to chargesheet. It is the entire basis of the case …even the other sections are bogus. I am considering legal action against Prakash Bajaj and (minister) Rajesh Munat. The prime accused, according to CBI is Kailash Murarka, who paid money to morph the CD – he is a BJP leader.”
The second complaint, filed by Munat, alleged that Baghel, Verma and others had conspired to circulate a forged CD. The CBI chargesheet relates to this case, and names Kailash Murarka, Vijay Pandya, and trader Vijay Bhatia, apart from Verma and Baghel.
Emerging from the courtroom, Baghel told the media, “They (BJP government) have shown their colours when they attacked our workers in Bilaspur…. This is a political case, the people will make the final decision.”
Chief Minister Raman Singh said the government had nothing to do with the chargesheet or its timing, and that the Congress had sought a CBI probe. Opposition Chhattisgarh Janata Congress, now in an alliance with BSP for the elections, called Baghel going to jail a political stunt.