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A city court ordered two days’ police custody for two senior journalists of Zee News Ltd, Editor Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business Editor Samir Ahluwalia, in connection with the alleged extortion case filed by industrialist and Parliamentarian Naveen Jindal. Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were arrested by the Delhi Police on Tuesday night. The channel had condemned the arrest, calling it “malicious and illegal”.
The arrest came after a case was registered last month on the basis of a complaint filed by Jindal alleging the channel had demanded Rs 100 crore in lieu of stopping negative newsflow on Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL). The case was registered under Section 387 (extortion) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) under the Indian Penal Code.
The arrests were made after a forensic report allegedly confirmed the authenticity of the conversation video between the two journalists and JSPL executives shot by the firm in a sting in September.
Delhi Police notice
Delhi Police has sent a notice to Zee Group promoter Subhash Chandra, asking him to join investigations in connection with the alleged extortion bid. A senior police official said the notice had been sent soon after the arrests.
Agrawal also said Jindal tried to “influence” Zee News through various people including his brother Prithvi Jindal, uncle Sitaram Jindal and political leaders including Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda. “JSPL is using the state machinery, including the Congress, to muzzle voices of dissent,” the channel said. Zee News also questioned the appropriateness of the sections under which the two editors were arrested.
Jindal refused to comment on the development saying the matter was sub-judice. JSPL’s director Human Resources (HR) Rajeev Bhadauria, however, responded by calling Zee News a “black sheep” among the media organizations and its allegations “laughable”. “We have given all the evidence. The law will take its own course,” he told a TV news channel.
Chaudhary and Ahluwalia were produced in a city court by the Police which had sought three days’ custody to interrogate the matter further. The court rejected the bail plea of the editors and ordered two days’ police custody.