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Former BBC journalist Vinod Verma held for extortion

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Former BBC journalist Vinod Verma held for extortion
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Ghaziabad: Senior journalist Vinod Verma was arrested early morning Friday from his Ghaziabad residence by the Chhattisgarh Police over charges of extortion.

As many as 500 porn CDs, around Rs 2 lakh cash, pen drive, laptop and a diary were seized from the journalist's residence, police said.

Verma, who had earlier worked with BBC Hindi service, was picked at 3.30 am from Mahagun Mansion Apartments, Vaibhav Khand, Indirapuram by the team of Chhattisgarh Police with the help of Ghaziabad Police, Senior Superintendent of Police H N Singh said.

A case of blackmail and extortion has been registered against the scribe at Pandri police station in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh, he said.

"A man named Prakash Bajaj had lodged a complaint at Pandri police station in Raipur that he was being harassed over phone by an unidentified caller, who told him that he had a CD of his master," Raipur district Superintendent of Police, Sanjeev Shukla, told PTI.

The caller also threatened that if he was not given what he asked for, he would distribute the CD, Shukla said.

The official said search teams were sent to Delhi to trace the scribe.

"During the probe, the police came to know about a shop where the CD in question was copied. The shopkeeper told the police that one Vinod Verma had got made one thousand copies of the CD," Shukla said.

According to the officer, when the police came to know about Verma's involvement in the case, they contacted their Ghaziabad counterparts and arrested the scribe from his house, besides recovering the CDs and other material.

Verma has been booked under the Information Technology (IT) Act, police said.

As the news of the arrest of the former BBC and Amar Ujala journalist spread, many senior journalists from electronic and print media gathered outside the Ghaziabad police station.

AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh termed the development an "attack on the press".

In a tweet to the Uttar Pradesh Police, the journalist-turned-politician said Verma was arrested in a "mysterious" way and that the move amounted to attack on press freedom.

The Chhattisgarh Police will produce the scribe in a court in Ghaziabad later in the day.

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