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Couple take Rs 1 crore ‘extortion money’ from IAS officer, held

Couple take Rs 1 crore ‘extortion money’ from IAS officer, held

Mumbai: The Thane Police’s Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) caught a private detective and his wife red-handed while accepting Rs 1 crore ‘extortion money’ from controversial IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar, who has been sent on leave pending an inquiry, police said on Friday.

They said Satish Mangle and his wife, Shraddha, were arrested on Thursday. They had allegedly threatened to defame Mr. Mopalwar using recordings of his phone calls, and had demanded ₹7 crore from him to keep them out of public knowledge and for retracting their allegations of corruption against him.

In August this year, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had removed Mr. Mopalwar as vice-chairman and managing director, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), following a row over audio clips in which he was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot.

Thane Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh said, “Private detective Satish Mangle and his wife Shraddha were arrested by AEC officers from his rented flat in Dombivali on Thursday. Police have recovered two laptops, five mobile handsets, four pen drives, 15 CDs and some incriminating documents from [Mangle’s] residence.”

The couple and their friend, Anil Vedmehta, had contacted Mr. Mopalwar through one Kling Mishra and asked him to come to Kharegaon toll plaza on the Nashik highway on October 23, Mr. Singh said.

“Initially, they had demanded ₹10 crore, but later settled for ₹7 crore. Mr. Mangle had threatened Mr. Mopalwar and his daughter of consequences if he did not pay up.” He said Mr. Mopalwar had recorded their extortion demand, made at a city five star hotel on October 31, on video.

Police said Mr. Mopalwar had approached the Thane Police AEC and filed a complaint in this connection. After studying the video recording and other evidence, a case was registered against them and a trap was laid at Mr. Mangle’s residence in Dombivali. A police officer said, “A policemen in plainclothes was sent to Mr. Mangle’s house to give ₹1 crore as an instalment. The AEC sleuths arrested Mr. Mangle and his wife while accepting the cash. As of now, we have arrested two accused in this case. We’ve launched a search operation to nab two aides.”

Mr. Mangle, a private detective, had come in contact with Mr. Mopalwar when the latter sought his help with an issue related to his divorce. While working on the issue, Mr. Mangle had recorded some calls made by the senior IAS officer.

Later, he demanded money from Mr. Mopalwar, and provided some audio clips to news channels, which were aired. “Mr. Mangle and his wife made some serious allegations of corruption against Mr. Mopalwar. They contacted politicians and mediapersons in this connection. Later, they demanded ₹10 crore to withdraw allegations of corruption and to return the audio clips,” the officer said.

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