Sex & blackmail: Big & Powerful honeytrapped in Madhya Pradesh
It’s just before midnight in Indore. Two women, waiting in an SUV, grow nervous on seeing a car pull up behind them. A few men and women get off and approach them. The duo tries to flee, but quickly finds out resistance is futile.
The following night, two fleets of cars roll into Riviera Town and Minal Residency — two of the most posh residential localities of Bhopal. In a few minutes, three women are bundled into the cars and the convoys speed off. Lights come on in some houses. A few doors open. No one realises what happened. The shock comes with the morning newspapers.
‘Honeytrap scandal’, they scream. Some local dailies get creative: ‘Honey Hunters’, says one; honey-money, says another. What was unearthed in these midnight raids could be the biggest ever quid pro quo sex scandal
In the State of MP, former ministers and powerful politicians and bureaucrats were blackmailed into giving crores and big favours in terms of tenders and contracts to the all-woman honeytrap ring.
Within days of the ring being busted, there was a bevy of netas saying ‘not me’. There are indications that central officials may have also fallen prey, and the racket may have its tentacles in five states.
Five women and a man are in custody. The alleged ‘ringleader’ is 48-year-old Shweta Swapnil Jain, whose Facebook page says ‘Sometimes The King Is A Woman’. The next key suspect is her namesake, Shweta Vijay Jain, who reportedly has strong BJP connections.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has claimed that she was a state general secretary of BJP youth wing, and BJP state vice-president Jitu Jirati has admitted knowing her and that she was in the state working committee during his tenure as state head of BJYM from 2009 to 2013.
Shweta Swapnil Jain, the alleged kingpin
24 college-going girls forced to bed VIPs, MP sex scam kingpin tells SIT
A third accused allegedly has political connections on the other side — Barkha Soni is the wife of former Congress state IT cell vice-president Amit Soni. Of the two other women, 18-year-old Monica Yadav is the most intriguing. A college student, she hails from a poor family in a Rajgarh village, and has since agreed to turn government approver.
Little is known in public of the fifth woman, Aarti Dayal. According to police, she is adept at fainting spells and has been checked into hospital several times in five days of custody.
The lone male accused is a driver, Omprakash, arrested with Aarti and Monica in Indore while allegedly taking Rs 50 lakh from the complainant, the now-suspended civic engineer, Harbhajan Singh.
What’s common to all these women is that their swagger hasn’t changed in custody. After all, the alleged list of people they twirled around their little fingers reads like a who’s who.
“It is shocking how these women have a grip over the system and how easily they operate,” Indore SSP Ruchi Wardhan Mishra, who has spent the most time with them, had told mediapersons early in the case.
Madhya Pradesh honeytrap ring: ‘Hit list’ of 13 IAS officers found so far
Their modus operandi was ruthless yet simple: meet netas and babus at events, hook them with pretty girls, invite them to a luxury hotel room, take their videos in secret, and start blackmailing them, say police.
Some of the men paid in cash — crores of it — and some in kind — tenders, contracts and funds for NGOs. In a twisted little irony, the money paid to their NGOs was perhaps tax-exempted.
The two Shwetas own companies, which they used to bag contracts from government officials they had honeytrapped, say police.
The Special Investigation Team is analyzing contracts and tenders of at least a dozen departments. Officers suspect someone more powerful pulled the strings from behind the screens — it is he (or she) who gave the honeytrap ring their targets and decided if they should be fleeced for money or tenders.
The list of evidence so far includes a shocking 4,000 smut videos, photos and sex chats of some very senior IAS officer and politicians. These chats are so explicit that it is embarrassing for the officers to note them down as evidence, say sources.
Those transcribing the sex videos and audio clips have it worse.
Chief minister Kamal Nath has asked for details on officials involved in the case and has made it clear to the SIT that no one will be spared, regardless of position.
The probe is so sensitive that only senior officers are allowed near the accused — even CSP and additional SP-ranked officers are kept out. The biggest challenge now is to keep the videos —which are of hi-def quality — from falling into the wrong hands.
Shweta Swapnil Jain, 48: Alleged kingpin. Ran an NGO which was the front for extortion racket. Tried to get assembly poll ticket. Facebook page says ‘sometimes the king is a woman’. Said to have contacts in BJP. Was arrested from a house owned by BJP MLA Brijendra Pratap Singh. She had even tried to get an election ticket but it fell flat as an MMS of her suddenly popped up on social media
Shweta Vijay Jain, 39: Owns a tech firm in which co-accused Aarti Dayal is a director. Floated a real estate company in January, which was patronized by some IAS officers. Six months later, she launched a tech company to corner govt contracts. Also owns an electric and thermal insulation product manufacturing unit in Bhopal.
Barkha Soni, 34: Wife of former Cong leader Amit Soni. Said to have contacts in Cong. A close friend of Shweta Swapnil, she runs an NGO which was used to park money extorted by the ring
Aarti Dayal, 29: A graduate, was roped into the ring by Shweta Swapnil Jain. Hails from Chattarpur. Co-director with Shweta Vijay Jain in a tech company they started. Has accused police of forcing her to sign on blank paper.
Monica Yadav, 18: The youngest suspect, a BSc student. Scored 95% in Class X, and says she was brought to Bhopal on the promise of college education and a government job but was forced into flesh trade by Shweta and Aarti. Her face was used to lure targets. Has now agreed to turn approver.
How the trap worked
1. The honeytrap has been going on for five to 10 years
2. Ringleader identified officers, ministers and politicians to be targeted
3. Under the garb of an NGO, the women contacted these influential people
4. Once in touch, they began intimate chatting on social media. Sex chats followed, and targets were lured into ‘meetings’ in hotel rooms
5. The men were always asked to book hotel rooms
6. The women would arrive early and set up hidden cameras to shoot videos
7. The video was WhatsApped to the target. The blackmail began
8. Some netas and babus were fleeced for crores
9. Officials were coerced into giving contracts and tenders to companies owned by the ring
10. Extortion money was also routed through NGOs
11. As the women’s hold grew tighter, they allegedly began influencing transfers and postings too
12. They maintained a register of targets that had fallen for the lure
How it was busted
Indore Municipal Corporation engineer Harbhajan Singh went to police, alleging he was being blackmailed by Aarti Dayal and Monica Yadav with a video they had secretly made. Said they were demanding Rs 3 crore from him.
Police nabbed Aarti and Monica during the alleged exchange of Rs 50 lakh. Their interrogation led to the arrest of Shweta Swapnil Jain, Shweta Vijay Jain and Barkha Soni from Bhopal. The can of worm was cracked open.
Evidence collected so far
* Over 4,000 smut videos and photos of powerful people in compromising positions
* Sex chats and audio clippings of dirty talk
* Financial accounts of companies and NGOs run by the ring
* Call records — hundreds of them — between the women and movers and shakers
Twists In Probe Team
* Three days after the bust, inspector Ajit Singh — officer in charge of Palasia police station, where the FIR was filed — was suddenly removed. The official reason was carelessness in an old drugs case
* In 24 hrs, there were three investigating officers — Ajit Singh, SI Bar Singh Khadia, and inspector Shashikant Chourasia (who replaced Ajit).
* IG-CID D Sreenivas Verma was initially supposed to head the SIT, but less than 24 hours later, it was reconstituted and ATS chief Sanjeev Shami, a counter-intelligence officer, put in charge
* All the information is from police briefings and conversations with cops