Jaydeep Ghosh, who posts on fashionscandal.com, has rejected charges but has been denied bail.
A Delhi lifestyle blogger has been arrested for allegedly trying to extort Rs 2 crore from industrialist Jaidev Shroff, who is locked in an ugly divorce battle with art patron and socialite Poonam Bhagat.
Jaydeep Ghosh, who is in judicial custody, demanded the cash to remove slanderous articles on Jaidev from his website and cancel a planned release of a staggering 300 more, according to the Kherwadi police’s report.
Jaydeep was arrested from the Khar office of United Phosphorous Limited, the Rs 2,000-crore company that Jaidev heads, with Rs 60 lakh, which was supposed to be the first instalment in the extortion scheme, Mirror has learned. The arrest took place on April 27, but the details have emerged now.
Jaydeep has been booked under sections 384 (extortion), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 120(b) (conspiracy) of the India Penal Code and provisions of the Information Technology Act. He has rejected all the allegations.
This is the latest chapter in the confrontation between Poonam and Jaidev, who have made a series of explosive charges against each other. Last year, Poonam had accused him of stealing her jewellery.
Jaidev, who filed a divorce petition in the family court in October 2015, had previously alleged in a police complaint that Poonam, in collusion with a certain ‘Bengali baba’, had administered intoxicants to him in a bid to poison him.
Jaydeep’s arrest stems from a probe in another alleged blackmail bid targeting Jaidev. Jaidev has told the police that in January this year, he learned from Poonam’s friend that she had asked Bangalore businessman Girish Kumar to illegally access Ukrainian model Natalia Kapchuk’s Wikipedia page and post false details about Natalia and Jaidev.
After Jaidev’s tech team started investigating the matter, he got threat calls from a man who identified himself as Girish Kumar. The caller threatened to ruin Jaidev’s reputation if he was not paid Rs 5 crore. Jaidev does not have a recording of this conversation.
On March 1, Jaidev approached the Kherwadi police and later a magistrate, which ordered the registration of a first information report. Girish secured anticipatory bail from the Karnataka High Court. “We don’t have anything to say on this. I deny all the allegations,” Girish, who runs an anti-piracy firm called Aiplex, told Mirroron Monday.
Poonam, too, confuted the claims against him. “This is an absolutely false case against Girish Kumar. Aiplex is one of the leading anti-piracy software companies in India. We had hired its services for removing a defamatory video against me called The Greedy Wife. I wouldn’t recognize the man if he sat beside me,” she said.
While cops investigated Jaidev’s claims against Girish, the industrialist has said in his complaint that he received another extortion demand, this time from Jaydeep, who had allegedly posted damaging articles on the Shroff family on the site fashionscandal.com.
Jaydeep, according to the complaint, demanded Rs 2 crore to stop writing about the family. He allegedly also promised to hand over 300 unpublished articles.
Jaidev recorded the conversation and persuaded the lifestyle blogger to collect the first part of the payment from his company’s Khar office. The trap, as cops have described it, worked and Jaydeep was arrested.
Jaydeep, in his bail application through advocates Rizwan Merchant and Swapna Kode, claimed Jaidev had falsely implicated him to settle scores with Poonam. The application said Jaydeep was simply being made a scapegoat and that the material gathered by investigators “failed to make out even prima facie involvement of the applicant in the alleged offence”.
But the judge said the accusations against Jaydeep appeared to be serious in nature and cops should be given time to learn more about a person called C Albert whose emails formed the basis of the alleged articles written by Jaydeep. The judge noted Albert had not been traced yet.
Jaidev’s lawyer, Zulfiquar Memon, refused to comment, saying the matter was sub judice.