The Chhattisgarh Cabinet on Saturday recommended a CBI probe into the case of alleged sex CD tape that arrested journalist Vinod Verma claims to possess against PWD Minister Rajesh Munat. Among others, the government claimed that the CD is the result of an inter-state conspiracy and organised crime. Cabinet Minister Prem Prakash Pandey told the media in Raipur about the Cabinet’s decision.
The development comes a day after Munat filed a complaint against Verma and state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel, accusing them of trying to malign his image by allegedly distributing a “fake” sex CD. The case under Section 67(A) of Information Technology Act was registered late on Friday at Civil Lines Police Station in Raipur.
On Saturday, the opposition Congress kept up its demand for Verma’s immediate release and an independent probe into the episode. “We also demand the resignation of the Chhattisgarh minister,” Congress leader Pawan Khera told reporters in New Delhi. In Raipur, Baghel claimed that the original complainant against the journalist had gone “missing”.
The state Cabinet recommended CBI probe stating that the CD should be subjected to a high-level technical examination, and since it involves IT, the probe should be carried out within and outside the country. Maintaining that political and criminal involvement should also be probed, the Raman Singh Cabinet said that since money must have exchanged hands in making it, funding should be probed. The BJP claimed that the “fake” 92-second clip, which accuses Munat, was made from a CD that is more than 13 minutes long by superimposing the minister’s face on another person’s. The party also asked Verma who had asked him to edit and store “500 fake CDs at his home”.
A Chhattisgarh police team had arrested Verma, a senior journalist, from his residence in Ghaziabad around 3.30 am on Friday on charges of extortion. Denying the allegations, Verma claimed that he was being “framed”, and that the Chhattisgarh government was “not happy” with him since he had a “sex CD” of the PWD Minister. In Raipur, Munat had dismissed the charge and called the CD fake.
While protesting Verma’s arrest, Baghel on Friday had allegedly distributed copies of the CD among journalists in Raipur and asked whether mere possession of the CD made him an accused as well. On Saturday, he claimed that Prakash Bajaj, a BJP leader whose complaint about alleged extortion and criminal intimidation led to Verma’s arrest, had gone missing. Bajaj had claimed that he received a call from Verma on his landline phone, and the called had threatened to leak a CD of his ‘aaka’ (master).
Baghel today asked, “How did the police arrive at the conclusion that ‘aaka’ was Munat before verifying the CD’s content? Why was the complainant not being presented before the media?” He claimed that Bajaj did not name Verma in his complaint and yet he was arrested from his home 1,600 km away – and within 11 hours of the FIR being lodged.
While some BJP workers blackened the nameplate outside Baghel’s home in Raipur, more than 24 hours since the case was registered against him, the police did not either take him in custody or question him. Several Youth Congress workers reached Kotwali Police Station in Raipur, holding what looked like CDs, and demanded that they too be booked for the same offence.