Two held for extorting Rs 1.40 cr from C'garh forest officer

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Mungeli, Feb 5 (PTI) Two persons, including a woman, were arrested for allegedly blackmailing and extorting Rs 1.40 crore from a forest officer in Chhattisgarhs Mungeli district after telling him that the CBI was probing a complaint of corruption against him, police said on Friday.

The duo and their absconding associate also threatened the forest officer and told him that he will be sent to a jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands if he did not pay money to them, they said.

While two accused, Paramveer Marhas (40) and Varsha Tiwari (30), who had introduced themselves to the officer as reporters of a local news portal, were arrested on Thursday, the third accused, identified only as Sartaj, is still at large, Mungeli Superintendent of Police (SP) Arvind Kujur said.

All the accused are residents of neighbouring Bilaspur district, he said.

Expensive items bought by the trio from the extorted money have been seized, Kujur said.

Early this week, the victim, currently posted as a forest ranger in Mungeli, lodged a complaint that he was being blackmailed by the three since 2019, he said.

During interrogation, Marhas and Tiwari revealed that Sartaj had hatched a plan to extort money from the forest officer in 2019 when he was posted in the Ratanpur forest range of Bilaspur, Kujur said.

They told the forest officer there was a complaint of corruption against him with the CBI and that the agencys top officials were investigating the case, the SP said.

The trio told the victim they can settle his case, claiming their acquaintance with CBI officials and demanded money from him, he said.

The accused told the forest officer that he will be jailed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and his family will be ruined if he did not pay money to them, the SP said.

The three extorted Rs 1.40 crore from the ranger in multiple installments between May 2019 and February 2021, he said.

The accused bought two cars, a Bullet motorbike, a moped and gold ornaments from the extorted money and all these have been seized, Kujur said.

Besides, Rs 8.15 lakh cash was recovered from the arrested duo, he said.

Further investigation is underway and efforts are on to trace the third accused, Kujur said.

When queried how the forest officer arranged such a huge sum of money, Kujur said, as per preliminary information, he had sold his properties and also taken loans from several people.

However, exact details will be known after the probe concludes, the SP added. PTI COR TKP RSY RSY