Zee News editors arrested in Jindal extortion case
(Updated with response by Zee News)
Two senior journalists of Hindi-language channel Zee News were arrested on Tuesday night in an extortion case filed by Congress lawmaker and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd Chairman Naveen Jindal.
Jindal released video recordings last month that he said showed the journalists trying to extort money from the industrialist in return for not airing negative stories on coal block allocations involving his company.
Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) was among the companies named in a state auditor report as one of the beneficiaries of controversial coal block allocations which came to be known as “coalgate”.
Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business head Samir Ahluwalia were arrested after a forensic report by police concluded that a video CD submitted by Jindal in his criminal complaint was genuine. The video purportedly showed the journalists asking the company to commit to 1 billion rupees in advertising at the channel during a period of four years.
The channel on Wednesday said its editors were “illegally arrested” and denied all allegations by Jindal.
Addressing a press conference, Zee News Ltd Chief Executive Alok Agrawal said it was Jindal’s company that offered money to the channel.
The channel’s lawyer R.K. Handoo said the “sting operation” conducted by the arrested journalists against JSPL was their “own venture” which did not involve others in Zee News.
The journalists were on Wednesday sent to two-day police custody by a Delhi court.