A former partner of arms dealer Abhishek Verma, in a letter to the Prime Minister, has alleged that BJP MP Varun Gandhi was “honey trapped and compromised” into leaking information about defence matters, and that he was blackmailed with photographs which showed him with “foreign escorts”.
The September 16 letter that C Edmonds Allen, a New York-based lawyer, wrote to the Prime Minister was released Thursday to the media by Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. Allen’s letter underlined that Gandhi was “a Member of Parliament of the Defence Consultative Committee”.
Responding to the allegations, Gandhi said these were “nonsensical” and the claim that he was blackmailed for information was “insane”.
“Anyone who knows about the defence committee knows that there is no secret or confidential information that is ever shared with the committee,” he told The Indian Express.
“Abhishek Verma’s parents were Rajya Sabha MPs and a respected family. I last met him when I was a 22-year-old. I was a post-graduate student in London then, very far from public life. I have never met him since,” Gandhi said.
“I have heard wild and nonsensical allegations but there is not a shred or iota of proof or evidence to substantiate any of these insane claims. It is very easy to attempt to blacken someone’s good name. I have taken this very seriously. I find it seriously defamatory and will be taking legal action,” Gandhi said.
Releasing Allen’s letter, Bhushan and Yadav alleged that “these startling disclosures suggest that politicians from Congress as well as the BJP may have been involved in compromising vital national security information. It also shows that despite possessing credible information concerning serious breach of security during the UPA government, the current BJP government has not taken any action against the guilty”.
“One of the key revelations by Allen is that despite being tried in a sensitive and high profile case of leakage of defence information, Abhishek Verma continued to receive and pass on defence secrets till as late as 2011. In his letter dated 25.08.2016, addressed to the Prime Minister, Allen gives the details of the role played by various retired naval officers in providing top secret and sensitive information of the Indian Navy including Scorpene submarines to… Abhishek Verma,” Bhushan and Yadav said in a statement.
They demanded that the government order a “credible investigation into the charge made by Edmonds Allen along with photographs of a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Defence being compromised by these arm dealers through women escorts”.
Abhishek Verma was arrested on charges of influencing defence deals and obtaining top-secret documents. In 2006, BJP alleged in Parliament that Verma had received kickbacks of around $200 million in a deal for six Scorpène-class submarines. In 2009, Verma was exonerated in this case by CBI.
Verma had, however, again come into prominence after the 2006 naval war room case in which top-secret papers on naval purchases were allegedly leaked to him and others. The hearing for the case, in which four naval officers have also been chargesheeted, is currently on. Most of the other cases against Verma came to light after Allen fell out with him in late 2011 and turned a whistleblower.