A journalist was arrested in Noida on Monday for allegedly demanding Rs 2 crore from Union minister Mahesh Sharma, reported PTI. The woman allegedly blackmailed Sharma with a video of a pre-election meeting where the Bharatiya Janata Party leader is purportedly seen accepting a bribe. Sharma is the BJP’s nominee from the Gautam Budh Nagar Lok Sabha constituency.
The Noida Police said the woman is part of an extortion gang run by a man who owned a news channel. The news channel was shut down after demonetisation in November 2016, they said. “The woman reached Kailash Hospital, run by Sharma, with a letter from her boss,” said Gautam Buddh Nagar Senior Superintendent of Police Vaibhav Krishna, according to PTI. “She sought Rs 45 lakh of the Rs 2 crore in cash, immediately after which Sharma alerted [the] police. A police team soon reached the hospital and the woman was arrested after questioning.”
The other members of the gang are yet to be arrested. Krishna said the gang was running an extortion racket for some time now.
Sharma claimed the woman had approached him before the elections. “We had come in touch last month when she expressed interest in a door-to-door campaign,” he told The Indian Express. “It was just a conversation. I got a call from another person in the first week of April claiming they have a video of me talking about money, which was absolutely untrue. It later turned out to be a demand for money.”