Hailing from a poor family in Kalahandi district, once dubbed the hunger zone of Odisha, Archana Nag now owns a lavish home with imported interior decorations, luxury cars, four high-breed dogs and a white horse.
The rags to riches story of Archana, who was arrested last week for extortion, was so intriguing that a filmmaker from Odia planned to make a film about her life.
In police records, however, the 26-year-old is a blackmailer who allegedly extorted money from wealthy and influential people such as politicians, businessmen and film producers by threatening to make public photos and videos of their intimate moments.
Born in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi, Archana grew up in Kesinga, a nondescript town in the same district, where her mother worked, before coming to Bhubaneswar in 2015.
Law enforcement sources said that Archana initially worked for a private security company and later joined a beauty salon where she met Jagabandhu Chand from Balasore district and married him in 2018.
It is alleged that she ran a sex racket while working in the beauty salon. Jagabandhu operated a used car showroom and knew wealthy people like politicians, builders, businessmen and others. His photographs and those of Archana with influential people, including some MPs, went viral on social media, creating a statewide outcry.
Archana also befriended wealthy and influential people and is said to have provided them with female companionship. Police claimed they then took intimate photos of these powerful people and then blackmailed them for money.
In a complaint lodged at Nayapally Police Station, a film producer alleged that Archana asked him for Rs 3 crore after showing him his photos with other girls.
She was arrested on October 6 on the basis of another complaint from a young girl who accused Archana of using her in this racket.
Odia filmmaker Sridhar Martha has said he plans to make a feature film about Archana’s life.
Police have urged the economic crimes wing to investigate financial issues related to Archana’s blackmail case.
“An internal assessment carried out by the police revealed that the couple acquired properties worth Rs 30 crore in just four years, from 2018 to 2022,” a senior police officer said.
Bhubaneswar DCP Prateek Singh said that so far only two cases have been registered against Archana in this regard.
If other blackmailed victims press charges against her, the police will take action, the DCP said.
Archana’s bank statements are examined by the police.
Politics also began to play its part in this story of sex, money and betrayal.
Opposition Congress SS MP Saluja has claimed his link to lawmakers and ruling BJD ministers, if exposed, could lead to the collapse of 22-year-old government Naveen Patnaik in Odisha .
He alleged that an effort was underway to protect ruling party MPs, ministers and young leaders who were caught in the trap, as had been done in other cases earlier.
BJP Bhubaneswar Unity Chairman Babu Singh also claimed that up to 25 political leaders, including 18 MPs and ministers, most of them belonging to the BJD, were part of Archana’s network.
Rejecting the allegations, the BJD asked Congress and the BJP to provide proof that its leaders were involved in the case.