Con woman arrested trying to blackmail Mahesh Sharma

Usha Thakur is accused of extortion, forgery and criminal conspiracy linked to a pre-election 'sting operation' by a gang of a con man who ran a dubious news channel

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Noida: A con woman was arrested on Friday by the Noida Police on charges of trying to extort Rs 2 crore from Union minister and BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, officials said.

Usha Thakur, in her 60s, was held from her house in Sector 31 at around 10 AM, a police official said.

Thakur is accused of extortion, forgery and criminal conspiracy linked to a pre-election “sting operation” done by a gang helmed by a man who ran a local news channel that was shut down after demonetisation, according to the police.

However, the con woman is also said to be known to the Union minister for three decades now.

Noida was once home to many Hindi news channels of dubious reputation. After the Narendra Modi government was formed, the operators of several of these channels faced the law while several others could not sustain their cash-dependent businesses due to the demonetisation of 8 November 2016.

On 25 April, their accomplice Nishu was arrested for masquerading as a journalist of Pratinidhi, the television channel that has long shut down. Since then, the police have been on a lookout for Alok Kumar, the owner of the now-defunct TV channel.

The gang was demanding Rs 2 crore from Sharma after threatening to make public an “objectionable” video, the officials said, adding that three people directly linked to the case were already arrested in April.

Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma

“Usha Thakur was arrested this morning from her house. She has been arrested following detailed interrogation of other accused involved in this case,” SHO of the Sector 20 police station Rajvir Singh Chauhan said.

The con woman was produced before a local court, which remanded her in judicial custody, he said.

A con man, identified as Khalid, who worked in the gang, is absconding, the SHO added.

Thakur once worked in Noida as a social worker. She hogged the limelight for her work in getting justice for victims of the sensational Nithari serial murder case.

Thakur belongs to the illustrious family of Hindi poet, the late Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’. She is the granddaughter of Basant Singh, Dinkar’s brother.

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