Staffer arrested for extortion bid on Thapar Group executive

Untitled-1 copyNEW DELHI: The corporate affairs head of a Thapar Group-owned company along with his aide has been arrested for allegedly trying to extort Rs 25 crore from the Group’s senior executive who was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s business delegation during his three-nation tour.

Jaspal Singh (47), heading corporate affairs of Thapar Group enterprise Ballarpur Industries Limited, and his associate Deepak Kishore (43) were arrested by Special Cell of Delhi Police.

“Being a very senior executive, Singh was well versed with the business deals of the company as well as the minute details of the family life and children of the corporate bosses. He had hired accused Deepak Kishore and made a well thought-out plan to execute the extortion threats using this knowledge,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav.

On Tuesday, a complaint was received in the Special Cell on behalf of Anil Bhargava, director of Avantha Group, a USD 4 billion enterprise which owns among others Ballarpur Industries and Crompton Greaves.

“Threatening calls were being made to Bhargava and SMS containing details of family members of the victim were sent on the cell phone number of Gautam Thapar (another top executive) as well as on the number of the Personal Secretary of the victim demanding an amount of Rs 25 crore as ‘protection money’ from the recently concluded sale of a power project of the company in Chhattisgarh to Adani Group,” said Yadav.

The caller had threatened that if the demands were not fulfilled, he would eliminate the victim and also harm his children who are studying abroad. Police registered an FIR under appropriate sections.

“The victim was traveling along with the Prime Minister on his tri-nation tour as a member of the corporate delegation. As it was learnt that the calls were made from a SIM card bought from Thoubal in Manipur, a team was rushed there,” Yadav said.

Several other teams were deployed at various places within Delhi and a team was also rushed to Mumbai as the threat calls were made from there. They found out that the person after making the threat calls from Mumbai had arrived in Delhi.

A suspect was located in the Lal Kuan area of Badarpur, Delhi and he was apprehended.

“He was identified as Deepak Kishore. He was interrogated during which he confessed that he had made the threat calls and also disclosed the role of Jaspal Singh, the mastermind behind the conspiracy. Accordingly, Singh was also arrested,” Yadav said. Officials of the company could not be contacted for a reaction.

Singh has been a regular Thapar employee for the past 10 years.

“Jaspal had intimate details of the corporate dealings of Avantha Group and knew that the recently concluded sale of a ready power plant of Avantha Group in Chhattisgarh to Adani Group had brought in over Rs 4,200 crore. He decided to utilize this knowledge of the family and personal affairs of his corporate bosses to hatch a conspiracy whereby they could be threatened into submission and pay him extortion money to the tune of Rs 25 crore,” Yadav said.

He then roped in co-accused Deepak, who was very close to him since his early professional years.

Deepak was provided accommodation and air tickets to Mumbai from where he was supposed to make the threat call.

Deepak went to Mumbai with the northeast telecom circle SIM card and made the threatening call to the victim. After returning, he sent a message to the Personal Secretary of Gautam Thapar.

Since then, both the accused were waiting from a response from the victim and were planning about the mechanism to be adopted for receiving the extortion money through hawala channels.

The incriminating cell phone and the SIM card used to make the threat calls and sending threatening messages have been recovered. -PTI

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