Absconding tabloid owner accused in 60 crimes in Indore, held in Gujarat

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Absconding for more than six months and accused of being involved in rape, blackmailing, extortion, human trafficking, grabbing of land among other crimes, a tabloid owner Jitendra alias Jitu Soni was arrested from Gujarat and brought to Indore on Sunday, police said.

Confirming his arrest, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police Harinarayanchari Mishra said, “Of about 60 criminal cases he is facing related to rape, human trafficking, blackmailing, extortion, grabbing of land etc, 45 were lodged against him in the past six months while about 15 cases were registered earlier. He was arrested on Saturday. We will give more details about the arrest within hours,” the DIG said.

Soni escaped during a police raid at his premises on December 3, after an engineer from Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) Harbhajan Singh lodged an FIR against him accusing Soni of defaming him based on ‘unfounded conversation’ and trying to blackmail him.

The FIR was preceded by Soni’s tabloid Sanjha Lokswami publishing a transcript of the engineer’s alleged conversation with certain women who were arrested earlier on charges of luring, trapping and blackmailing high-profile people in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and certain other states, according to police.

The tabloid also published transcripts of two other high-profile people, including a former minister.

In a joint operation with the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) and police, the Indore district administration razed two bungalows of Jitu Soni-- one at Kanadia Road and another at Shanti Kunj besides removing illegal structures in his two hotels and a cafe in the first fortnight of December. The estimated cost of the damaged properties during the anti-encroachment drive was said to be more than Rs 20 crore, as per an administrative official.

The demolition began on December 5 with police claiming to have rescued 67 women and several children from the hotel and hub of Soni’s operations. His son Amit Soni, his bouncer and several members of the staff have been arrested.

The district administration cancelled the permission granted to Soni to bring out his daily while the amount of reward on his arrest was increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 100,000.

Jitu Soni’s son Amit Soni was arrested in connection with the Arms Act and certain other cases. Jitu Soni, another son, two brothers and nephews also face criminal cases and they all had been absconding. One of his brothers was arrested from Gujarat a few days ago.

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