Bhopal: The ‘honey-trap’ scandal of Madhya Pradesh, unearthed a month ago, following raids in the houses of five women here, has claimed its first victim in jewel merchant-turned-media baron Jitu Soni of Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
The high profile stature he had in Indore has literally been razed to the ground as his bungalows, hotels and media office were bulldozed by the local administration.
The Kamal Nath government says it is part of its drive to demolish mafias in the state. The ‘anti-mafia drive’, incidentally, came in the wake of the tabloid, Sanjha Lokswamy, owned by Mr Soni, running a series of articles exposing the contents of a video and an audio purportedly seized during the police raids from the houses of the five women allegedly involved in the honey-trapping and blackmailing scandal.
The articles had unmasked a former minister and an influential retired bureaucrat of the state by exposing their ‘intimate relations’ with one of the five women accused in the honey trap scam.
The exposures had pressed panic button, particularly among a section of influential babus in Kamal Nath’s government as the tabloid ran a social media campaign warning it would unmask the erring babus and politicians one after another.
Then, the crackdown on Soni followed.
His two bungalows, three hotels and his media office were demolished and as many as 42 cases, including extortion and trafficking in women, were filed against him.
A bounty of Rs 1 lakh was also announced on his head by police.
The tabloid stopped appearing since December 8 when its office was sealed by the police.
Indore range inspector general of police Barun Kapoor was removed from his post in the wake of the leak of the video and the audio.
Around 4000 files containing sleaze videos, audios, and sex chats of some high profile people, including bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen, were recovered from laptops, pen drives and other electronic gadgets seized from the accused in the honey trap scandal.
The hurricane like speed with which the state government acted in the case has raised many eyebrows.
"I fully welcome the drive against mafias in the state. But, what about the bureaucrats linked to the honey trap cases?
Why no action has been taken against them so far?" asked former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, a former Member of Parliament from Indore, while interacting with media persons.
Soni, who has been ‘absconding’, was in the jewellery business inherited from his father in the 1990s.
He later entered the controversial business of real estate and then established a chain of hotels.
He took over a newspaper from a Congress leader in the late 1990s, allegedly to expand his influence in the city.
Soni was an ‘asset’ for the Madhya Pradesh state and central intelligence agencies, for his alleged contacts in the underworld and satta bazaar (illicit gambling).