Journalist Vinod Verma Arrested By UP Cops At the Crack of Dawn in "Emergency Like" Action
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
GHAZIABAD: “I am being framed as I have a Sex CD of (Chhatisgarh)Minister” arrested journalist Vinod Verma told news agency ANI.
A posse of Uttar Pradesh police barged into the Ghaziabad residence of a senior journalist Vinod Verma at 3am this morning, and arrested. The charge? Extortion said the cops, although reports suggest that he was working on an investigative story against the Chhattisgarh government that has over the past several years cracked down on scribes in a series of incidents.
The police claim they have seized “hundreds of CDs, a laptop and a pen drive from his home.” It is not clear how this “evidence” is incriminatory. Interestingly the cops refused to tell reporters the content of the CDs seized.
Verma, is currently a freelance journalist, and has worked with the BBC Hindi service as well as the Digital Editor of Amar Ujala newspaper. He was part of a three member fact finding team of the Editors Guild that had travelled to Chhatisgarh last year to report on the intimidation of journalists by that government.
The cops claim to be investigating a “complaint of blackmail” over a sex CD featuring a Chhatisgarh minister, according to media reports. The police maintained that they raided a Delhi shop that admitted to having made 1000 copies of this CD, and named Verma as the person who commissioned the copies.
The blackmail complaint has been filed by Prakash Bajaj, a Chhattisgarh BJP leader. Another charge by the Chhatisgarh government against Verma is that he is working with the Congress party to discredit the BJP. Congress leader Bhupesh Vaghel denied charges of being related to Verma and said, “this is an attack on democracy and we condemn it. They are targeting a journalist to protect their minister.”
The pre-dawn arrest has gone viral on the social media, with outrage pouring in, and senior journalists comparing it to the Emergency. Tweets condemned the arrest saying this was a clear message that “if you speak against the BJP you will be crushed,” as Congress leader Pramod Tiwari put it.