Tabloid sealed for revealing honey trap chats

In a pre-dawn swoop, Indore Police sealed the office of a newspaper that had published audio recordings of intimate chats between a retired IAS officer and a former minister with a call girl, who was arrested with four other women in what is widely known as the honey trap scandal.

The police also raided a hotel, a pub and a dance bar owned by the newspaper proprietor Jitu Soni.  

The honey trap scandal was unearthed on September 17 following simultaneous raids in Bhopal and Indore.

The police arrested five women on the charges of blackmailing politicians, bureaucrats, and government officials in lieu of concealing their discreetly shot sex tapes.

The Saturday's police action came after the evening tabloid Sanjha Lokswami published names and pictures (in a compromising position) of former minister Laxmi Kant Sharma and retired IAS officer S K Mishra, the principal secretary and long-time confidant of former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The paper also released portions of the escapades on Youtube.

The police raids are being seen as a pre-empting exercise to ensure that the newspaper does not publish more objectionable materials involving politicians and bureaucrats which were seized in September in a large quantity.

The state government is worried that the seized videos, which the tabloid had managed to access, could adversely affect its image as many from the ruling dispensation were also allegedly trapped by the honey-trap gang.

The police action comes after a principal secretary-rank officer allegedly attempted suicide inside the state secretariat, fearing his video would soon find a way into the public domain.

The state police have not commented yet on why the raids were conducted and what has been recovered or sealed.

On late Saturday night, joint teams of police and Indore Municipal Corporation conducted raids at Jitu Soni’s hotel My Home. The owner and staff strongly protested the police action.

On Sunday, the police sealed the evening tabloid’s office on the complaint of the Indore municipal corporation engineer Harbhajan Singh, who had lodged an FIR against two of the five women arrested in connection with the honey-trap case.

Police sources said that the raids had to be conducted to prevent the further revelation of the seized audio-videos in deference to the MP High Court directive.

A PIL seeking a CBI probe into the scandal is pending with the Indore bench of the high court.   

The arrested women have also pleaded with the court, through a petition, to prevent publication of the materials seized by the police during the raids on September 17.

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