Husband and wife team.

Bookie, bag of cash: Blackmail bid to ‘trap’ me, claims Fadnavis

Fadnavis claims Rs one cr was offered to his wife by a designer

Prashun Bhaumik | Mumbai | 16 March, 2023 | 11:20 PM

Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis says matter is linked to an absconding bookie whose daughter tried to blackmail his wife into helping clear cases against her father.

A bookie on the run, a daughter supposedly trying to cut deals to clear his name, and an alleged attempt to trap Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis — this, in a nutshell, according to Fadnavis, is the story behind an FIR filed by his wife Amruta against a woman who befriended her claiming to be a designer.

Amruta had on 20 February filed an FIR with the Malabar Hill Police Station in Mumbai against the acquaintance, who she identified as ‘Aniksha’ for allegedly offering her a bribe of Rs 1 crore asking her to intervene in a criminal case, The Indian Express reported Thursday.

Deputy CM Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio in the Maharashtra government, spoke on the matter in detail in the state legislative assembly on a question raised by Opposition leader Ajit Pawar about the FIR.

Fadnavis alleged the entire matter is linked to one Anil Jaisinghani, an absconding bookie, whose daughter tried to earn Amruta Fadnavis’ trust, secretly recorded their conversations, set a trap with a bag full of cash and attempted to blackmail the Fadnavis family into helping her clear cases against her father.

“There was an attempt to trap me, but nothing came out of it. I had a hint that there is some conspiracy against my family too because some people used to tell me that there is an attempt to trap your family. But fortunately, in this case, all evidence is in my favour and has come to the fore,” Fadnavis said in the state legislative assembly, adding that in all conversations between Amruta and Jaisinghani’s supposed daughter, the latter threw names of many senior police officers and politicians saying her family knows them well.

“We will really have to think about which way we are heading in politics…. I cannot say today whether this is political. Because it is a big question if one can trust a person who says they can switch sides and turn on other politicians if we help them. But there will be a thorough inquiry,” Fadnavis said.

Jaisinghani, a bookie who hails from Ulhasnagar near Mumbai, has 16 cases registered against him and has faced arrest three times in a betting case.

Fadnavis also said that after registering the FIR, his family was working with the police to trap the absconding Jaisinghani and had kept up conversations with Aniksha for the same.

Befriended wife, lent her designer clothes

Fadnavis described Jaisinghani’s supposed daughter as “very well educated and very intelligent” and said she knew Amruta since 2015-16. For some years after that, she stopped visiting and rekindled the acquaintance in 2021.

“She started telling her that she is a designer, she makes designer clothes and that she has started a business and that she makes artificial jewellery. She also said her name had appeared in a list of 50 most powerful women,” Fadnavis said in the assembly, adding that Amruta used to wear clothes and jewellery allegedly designed by Aniksha and return them, as many people in Mumbai do.

The Deputy CM said Aniksha did not say anything about her father till the government changed in June 2022, after which she sought Amruta’s help in clearing her father’s name. The Deputy CM further said, Amruta told her to hand over a memorandum in writing and if he is really found to be innocent, the police can help him.

“After some days she (Aniksha) started saying her father knows all the bookies and that they used to give the police information on these bookies, based on which raids would be held. She told us, if you help me a little bit, we can also conduct such raids. My wife did not take her seriously and told her that this is not our work and to not speak to her about such things,” Fadnavis said.

The ‘trap’, FIR and ‘counter trap’

According to Fadnavis, Aniksha allegedly offered Amruta Rs 1 crore in exchange for clearing cases against her father and would repeatedly propose a quid pro quo to trap other bookies.

Amruta then blocked her phone number, following which Aniksha sent Amruta a bunch of recorded conversations and video clips from another number in an attempt to blackmail his wife, Fadnavis added.

Speaking to reporters outside the assembly, Fadnavis said two days after Amruta blocked Aniksha’s contact, Jaisinghani contacted the Fadnavis family from an unknown number asking Amruta to unblock his daughter’s contact and allegedly blackmailing her with photos and videos, insisting that she help him clear his name.

Fadnavis also told reporters that when he made inquiries in the Mumbai Police, he found that under the former Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government — comprising the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress — the police had started the procedure of scrapping the cases against Jaisinghani.

“In one video she is wearing a necklace, but the video is muted. In another she is wearing a ring. But these items had been returned (to Aniksha). There was one very serious video. This woman, somewhere outside, is filling a bag with money. And then she sent another video where she is giving a similar bag to a woman who works with us,” the Deputy CM told the lower house. At this point, Amruta approached Fadnavis with all that had happened and Fadnavis called the police and registered an FIR.

The police decided to not make the FIR public saying it will be easier to trap and arrest Jaisinghani if the Fadnavis family keeps on engaging with Aniksha, the Deputy CM said.

“We also conducted a frame-by-frame forensic audit of all the videos. It also shows the woman who was given the bag opening it. She was told these were clothes. The forensic report clearly shows the two bags are different,” Fadnavis said in the assembly.

“Many of these things are recorded, some are not. But whatever has been said has been entered into the police diary. This person (Jaisinghani) was almost going to be trapped,” he added.

Courtesy ThePrint