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HONEY TRAP SCANDAL : MP power elite exposed

Shocking disclosures of a middle-aged woman’s perverted ingenuity has brought to the fore the debauched underbelly of bureaucracy and politics of Madhya Pradesh. Rakesh Dixit reports

Shweta Vijay Jain (48) is at the centre of the sex-and-blackmail racket that was busted in Indore on the night of September 17. A former BJP youth wing office bearer from Sagar district, Shweta subverted the system virtually at will.

She started the blackmailing game alone soon after the BJP came to power 16 years ago, and, over the years, managed to attract scores of women and call girls with her magnetic charm. Her dazzling life style and fabulous contacts in politics and bureaucracy beckoned women such as Aarti Dayal, Shweta Swapnil Jain, Barkha Soni and Monica Yadav to tread the slutty road to opulence. They had travelled quite a long risky distance.

On September 17, the women ran out of luck. A city engineer in the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), Harbhajan Singh, proved to be their nemesis. He approached the Palasia police station to lodge a complaint that two women were blackmailing him.

Singh told the police that the women had secretly recorded his ‘intimate moments’ with a girl and were threatening to make public the video if he did not cough up Rs. 3 crore. He took the name of Aarti Dayal and Shweta Jain. The engineer had spent many nights with the girl supplied by the gang and, in lieu of that, got many work contracts awarded to Aarti’s brother. But the gang apparently was not satisfied with just that much of favour.

Following the complaint, Indore SSP Ruchi Vardhan Mishra laid a trap for the blackmailers. She asked the complainant to call the woman to Indore, promising to pay Rs. 50 lakh as first instalment of the deal.

The women identified as Aarti Dayal (29) and Shweta Jain fell in the trap. They were immediately detained. Their interrogation led to four more arrests in Bhopal on the same night. They were identified as Monica Yadav (18), Shweta Swapnil Jain (39), Barkha Soni (34) and Omprakash Kori (45). All of them are in jail now.

Kori is the driver of the car which Aarti and Shweta rode in to reach Indore from Bhopal before being arrested.

Their interrogations and seizure of electronic gadgets from their possession brought forth astounding facts about the abysmal moral decadence of Madhya Pradesh politics during the 15 years of BJP rule.

Those caught in a compromising position with call girls include a former chief minister, a governor, unspecified number of former ministers, former MPs, sitting and ex MLAs, all India service administrative and police officers, engineers and wealthy businessmen

By all account, this has turned out to be the most sensational sex racket in India that managed to capture licentiousness of dozens of top politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen in most advanced digital gadgets including mobile phones and spy cameras. The gang used hidden cameras in lipsticks and goggles to record sexual acts.

Its targets, who were caught in a compromising position with call girls, include a former chief minister, a governor, unspecified number of former ministers, former MPs, sitting and ex MLAs, all India service administrative and police officers, engineers and wealthy businessmen.

Never before in India had such a mind-boggling degree of greed, lust, technology, abuse of power and number of call girls so filthily combined to satiate carnal desires of so large a number of powerful ‘worthies’ at the expense of the taxpayers’ money.

Police sources say members of the racket may have minted over Rs. 100 crore in the shape of government contracts, funding to their dubious NGOs, kickback in transfers and postings, not to mention direct ransom. The honey-trapped enabled the trappers to manipulate various departments under their influence with impunity.

According to a media report, Shweta confessed to having extorted Rs. 15 crore from 20 “victims.” This may be the tip of the iceberg. The racket roped in nearly 40 girls, including college students, to entertain the targets and secretly record the ‘entertainment’ for blackmailing.

Antecedents of the arrested women are as colourful as egregious. Most notorious of them, Shweta Vijay Jain is the most stylish one too. She had married her college time beau Vijay after a six-year-long affair against the will of her parents. Vijay, a cloth merchant in Sagar, is understood to be a partner in his wife’s crimes. He reportedly encouraged his beautiful wife to dabble in BJP politics and befriend rich and famous of the city and beyond. Over time, Shweta’s charm offensive was so pervasive that she was made an office bearer of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha. The post afforded her ample opportunities to socialise with top BJP leaders and through them IAS and IPS officers. She was said to be pretty close to getting nomination from an assembly seat in Sagar in 2013 but a video that went viral ahead of the election stymied her plan. The video purportedly has Shweta in a compromising position with her car driver. Undeterred, she campaigned for the BJP in the 2013 and 2018 assembly elections. The Congress has released her photographs on the campaign trail in Sagar.

However, by and by, she realised that the ghost of the viral video will not let her live peacefully in Sagar. But her ambition to trap powerful people remained undiminished. She came to Bhopal and cast her net wider on ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats. A few journalists, particularly a regional news channel owner and the editor of a local daily, joined Shweta in fleecing the targets.

In Bhopal, she frequently mingled with people of high society in big hotels and expensive clubs for late night cocktail parties.

When the police arrested her, Shweta was living in a rented house in a posh colony of Bhopal owned by former BJP minister Brijendra Pratap Singh.

According to the police, Shweta lured many women and college girls by flaunting her dazzling life style which inspired them to get rich fast. She managed to get generous government largesse through her NGO.

In Bhopal, Shweta got in touch with namesake, Shweta Swapnil Jain. The second Shweta had trapped a former MP who was denied re-election by the BJP as the video featuring him with her had gone viral. Ahead of the election, the state BJP leadership persuaded Shweta Swapnil Jain to leave for Dubai, lest her presence in Bhopal cast a detrimental shadow on the party’s campaign. She lived in Dubai for 10 months.

She was living in a luxurious bungalow in a posh colony of Bhopal. It was reportedly gifted to her by a former chief minister who is no more.

The Shweta duo’s other accomplice, Aarti Dayal hails from the small town of Chhatarpur. She also runs an NGO which she fronted to extract funding from agriculture and panchayat departments, using her connections with IAS officers and politicians in the previous BJP government.

She first deserted her husband for her paramour but this live-in relation too did not last long. She had lodged complaints against both of them for domestic violence and the cases are pending.

Barkha Soni, yet another member of the gang, was said to be in close touch with Congress politicians, including a former PCC president. Her husband, Amit Soni, was employed by the Congress in its IT cell but was sacked in June this year.

The youngest of them, Monica, is a girl from poor family of Rajgarh district who had come to Bhopal with the dream for a job but ended up as a call girl in the company of Aarti Dayal. They were living together in a flat for the last four months.

Monica was sent to Indore engineer Harbhajan Singh in a hotel where they were captured in a video.

The poor girl wept bitterly when produced in special court in Indore first time. Next time, she fainted and was rushed to hospital.

In view of the circumstances Monica had landed in the clutch of the racket, the police have turned her approver after getting her lodge to a complaint against the other four women. Information provided by Monica is proving crucial in the investigation. She has told the police that the gang had roped in 40 other girls, mostly in similar dire need of money.

Since the racket had honey-trapped most of its victims during the previous Shivraj Singh government, the Congress is aggressive and the BJP defensive on the scandal.


Significantly, most of the persons who are said to have had connections with the masterminds of the racket are either BJP politicians or bureaucrats known to be close to the previous regime.

Although the police have steadfastly refused to divulge names of the preys of the racket citing ongoing probe, the investigators have confirmed seizure of around 100 video recordings and 4,000 files containing mobile conversations, snap chats and other lurid details exchanged between the racket’s seductresses and their targets.

The Madhya Pradesh media is abuzz with shocking and salacious stories about the video-filmed sex escapades of undisclosed movers and shakers ever since the Indore police busted the racket on September 17.

Given the extreme sensitivity of the case, the state government has set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the racket. State Director-General of Police Vijay Pratap Singh constituted the SIT headed by Additional Director General (intelligence) Sanjeev Shami to investigate the case

The stories are about uber rich lifestyle and amazing influence-peddling of the four of the five beautiful women caught by the police and their connections with top echelons in the corridors of power.

According to the police, the gang members first got in touch with powerful men, befriended them and later asked them to meet in hotel rooms where their associates installed hidden cameras to capture the visitors in a compromising position. These objectionable clips were then used to blackmail them.

Police have seized electronic gadgets, including spy cameras as well as mobile phones, and Rs. 14 lakh cash. The seized laptops and mobile phones contain mind-blogging collection of obscene videos, lurid chatting and talks on quid-pro-quo deals between the women and their powerful connections.

Predictably, the extensive media coverage of the most sensational honey-trap racket in the state’s history has generated widespread moral outrage. Pressure is mounting on the police to reveal names of the people whose intimate moments were secretly video-recorded.

What is more, a section of the ruling Congress party has given the scandal a sensational political twist by accusing the BJP of having tried to use the gang to plot the fall of the Kamal Nath government. The conflation of political blame game, juicy media coverage, public outrage and consternation in the bureaucracy over the honey-trap case has put the police in a quandary.

“True, we have seized about 100 video-tapes featuring MLAs, ex-ministers, IPS and IAS officers in compromising position with call girls. But we cannot reveal their names because there is no complaint from either side and those involved in the act are all adults. The video clips are records of consensual sex, morally obnoxious but legally tenable,” a senior police officer said.

Given the extreme sensitivity of the case, the state government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the honey-trap and blackmail episodes involving the racket. State Director-General of Police Vijay Pratap Singh constituted the SIT headed by Additional Director General (intelligence) Sanjeev Shami to investigate the case.

However, even before the SIT got down to investigate the case, it got embroiled in controversies. Earlier, Inspector General of Police rank officer Shriniwas was named the SIT head but within hours he was replaced by Sanjeev Shami, an upright and strict IPS officer. It is said that the DGP did not consult Chief Minister Kamal Nath before nominating Shami.

Although the police have steadfastly refused to divulge names of the preys of the racket citing ongoing probe, the investigators have confirmed seizure of around 100 video recordings and 4,000 files containing mobile conversations, snap chats and other lurid details exchanged between the racket’s seductresses and their targets

DGP VP Singh’s another decision has raised the hackle of his senior colleague and Director General of Police (cyber cell) Purushottam Sharma.

Sharma has gone public with his annoyance over the DGP’s decision to cancel lease of a flat in Ghaziabad that was hired by the cyber cell four months ago for its staffers to stay during official visits to New Delhi. Sharma has not only vented his ire over the matter in a letter to the Madhya Pradesh IPS officers association but has also put a question mark on credibility of the SIT.


On the night of October 1, Chief Minister Kamal Nath replaced Sanjeev Shami by Rajendra Kumar as head of the Special Investigative Team (SIT) that was formed to investigate the murky honey trap case. Known for his impeccable record and integrity, Sanjeev Shami had barely started probe into the case. Shami had replaced Shri Niwas Verma, an IGP rank officer, who was SIT chief for just 10 hours!.

The chief minister was reportedly unhappy over the Director General of Police (DGP) VP Singh’s decision to appoint Shami, who was ADGP in the MP Anti terrorist Squad (ATS). A day before the replacement, Nath had summoned the DGP, the chief secretary and Shami at his residence and expressed unhappiness over involvement of the ATS in the probe. “ What has ATS to do in this case? “the chief minister reportedly asked, pointing to the fact that the team, basically involved in nabbing terrorists, was engaged in the racket’s busting operation.

Top advisors of Nath had initially pushed for Special DG cyber security, Purushottam Sharma, for the position of SIT chief, but the move was scuttled after reports that Sharma was himself associated with the five arrested women in some form.

Sharma was also removed from the post of the cyber chief and has now been posted as director, prosecution.

According to sources, Nath, by removing Shami as SIT chief, has brought the investigation under his direct control.

The Chief Minister has also reshuffled many other top IPS officers, sending ‘suspicious ones’ to insignificant posts.

Sharma was earlier posted in Indore where he was known to socialise with a lot of people with dubious antecedents. His outburst is being seen as a sign of desperation in the face of investigation. He is not alone in the high police echelon to be upset. More than a dozen IPS officers are said to be perturbed as they know that SIT chief is a no-nonsense man. Shami says ramifications of the case in hand are too complex and vast for him to reveal names of those involved in it so soon. However, he has expressed confidence that in due course those names will not be concealed if substantial evidences of criminal nature are firmly established.

Since consensual sex between two adults cannot be made out a crime unless there is complaint of rape from one and blackmail from the other side, the SIT is probing the scandal from the quid-pro-quo angle.

During the interrogation of the arrested women, it surfaced that they wheedled their victims into helping them get quite a large number of government tenders and contracts. After procuring contracts, Shweta and her cohorts would transfer them to wealthy contractors on substantial commissions.  Meanwhile, a petition seeking directions for the court-monitored CBI inquiry in the high-profile honey-trap case was filed before Indore bench of high court on September 23.

The petitioner Digvijay Singh Bhandari has alleged that state police would be unable to carry out fair probe into the case.

State police officers admit, off the record, that revelation of the names of powerful persons discretely filmed by the call girls is not possible, unless the high court specifically directs the police to do so.

They add that even the SIT formed to probe the case is not expected to reveal unsavoury truths in the case because doing so could raise a massive storm in the bureaucracy and politics which the Kamal Nath government with wafer-thin majority can ill-afford.

It suits the Chief Minister better that the sins of the honey-trapped politicians and bureaucrats remain concealed. The Congress is revelling in the perception that the scandal has rendered the BJP morally decadent and politically vulnerable as most of the victims belong to the saffron party which is wont to taking high moral ground on such matters. An unintended fallout of the scandal is that the Kamal Nath government is feeling much safer than before.

It is the first time since the Congress came to power in December last year that the BJP is on the defensive. All its bluster of toppling the “tottering” Kamal Nath government has evaporated. A visibly subdued BJP is demanding a CBI probe in the scandal, acutely aware of the fate of the Vyapam scam in which all of the party’s leaders got clean chit from the long investigation by the federal agency despite damning evidence against them.

The Congress, on the other hand, has gone to the extent of smelling BJP conspiracy to destabilise the state government with the help of sex and sleaze.

State’s law minister PC Sharma alleges that the BJP had plotted to frame several Congress MLAs through the racket’s charm to destabilise the government but failed. Another minister Govind Singh has echoed the colleague’s allegation, adding the government will not spare anyone involved in the racket, howsoever mighty he might be.

Former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh claimed that the names of ministers from the previous government have cropped up in the racket but none from the present government is involved. Congress insiders say the government may not have been inclined to unearth the racket had it not been for the serious complaints reaching the Chief Minister about the growing interference of the gang in tenders and contracts. According to police sources, it is not as though the sex racket has suddenly burst out on the surface.

State intelligence agencies had been keeping a close watch on the women involved in it for years. The sleuths even had a fair idea about who was blackmailed by whom. But, since there were no complaints and no video had gone viral, the intelligence personnel chose not to act, except piling up information about the sleazy goings-on.

They were, anyway, reluctant to mess up with the powerful people.

However, the intelligence agencies felt compelled to step up monitoring on the racket soon after a video clip of an IAS officer of additional chief secretary rank having sex with a call girl went viral two months ago. The surfacing of the video left the ruling Congress red-faced. The government immediately sent the officer on forced leave. Internal probe by the chief secretary revealed that apart from blackmailing their victims, the queens of the racket also indulged in securing government contracts for chosen ones and in transfer-posting business.

This revelation reportedly alerted the top brass to direct the police to act against the racket.

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