11.37 am: Zee group lawyer says no evidence to justify arrests
The lawyer for Zee group, RK Handoo ,has now taken the mic saying that the arrests were completely unneccessary, give the fact that the matter was pending before the High Court and the two editors in question were cooperating with the police. He is also alleging intimidation, saying "Why did Jindal group first file a civil suit against Zee officials in Bombay HC and then file a criminal case?"
He added that given the fact that no money had changed hands, there was no evidence of extortion.
11.23 am: Zee news CEO says Jindal video edited to make it look incriminating
Agarwal alleged that "various kinds of pressures were put on Zee group officials to stop coverage of Coalgate", adding that his editorial team had simply met with Jindal to listen to their views and ask them questions, but that instead of answering queries filed by Zee group, Jindal decided to file a case against Zee group officials.
"The talk lasted 5-6 hours. If we take just 15 minutes of a conversation stretching over hours then it can be made to look incriminating. Naveen Jindal tried to bribe my reporters", he said.
Meanwhile a skeptical reaction on Twitter:
Question - If Jindal was trying to bribe the editors, why didn't Zee expose them then ? Why were editors negotiating Rs 100 crore ?
— Harinder Baweja (@shammybaweja) November 28, 2012
Agarwal is now alleging direct government interference with the media, saying that senior Congress party officials like Digvijaya Singh and Raman Singh had also requested the network not to publish stories against Jindal.
"The Congress has been attempting to intimidate the media since the UP elections and other by-elections", he said, adding that Jindal's mother had cited her families relationship with the Goel family and asked them to stop publishing stories against Naveen Jindal.
11.13 am: Zee News cries censorship, hits out at Jindal, UPA
CEO of Zee News Alok Agarwal has called the arrests of its two senior editors "censorship of the media without the stamp of emergency" and said that the action taken against them was yet another instance of UPA mismanagement. Calling the arrest of the two editors illegal, he said that the police had been forced to carry out the arrests as a means of intimidation.
Agarwal went on to hit out at Naveen Jindal, saying he was clearly guilty of colluding with employees to get coal block allocations. He said his network was being targeted because it had published over 200 reports on Naveen Jindal impartially in the past, adding that the video confirmed how he had offered money as a clear bribe to the editors and then the company.
10:50 am: Jindal refuses to comment on arrests, Zee expected to comment
Times Now reports that Jindal has refused to comment on the arrest of the two journalists and has said that the police should be allowed to conduct their investigations in the case.
"It is a sub-judice matter. The Delhi police is investigating this case so I do not wish to make any comment," he said
Zee group though is expected to address the media in a bit. Lets hope they have more to say.
10: 45 am: Two executives of Zee News arrested, group accuses govt of attack on freedom of press
Sudhir Chaudhary, the head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business were arrested last night after the forensic reports stated a CD showing them purportedly seeking money from the Jindal group was authentic.
Naveen Jindal, chairman of Jindal Power and Steel Ltd (JPSL), had last month released a CD which allegedly showed footage in which the Zee journalists were trying to strike a deal with his company officials, telling them that their channel will not air negative stories of Jindal Group if the money is paid to them.
Zee News vehemently denied all allegations of extortion levelled against it and described the arrests of two of its senior journalists as a “crude and direct attack on the freedom of the press”.
Sudhir Chaudhary, head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business, were arrested by Crime Branch of Delhi Police Tuesday following the registration of an extortion case about 45 days ago on a complaint by Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s company.
The channel accused the Jindal Steel and Power Limited, owned by Congress MP Naveen Jindal, of “using state machinery, controlled by the Congress party both at the centre and Delhi, to muzzle voices of dissent and interfere with the legitimate rights of the Media to divert attention and cloud its illegalities and misdeeds which these editors in the channel sought to highlight in public interest , highlighting the corruption in the coal gate scam after being indicted by CAG, and being investigated by the CBI.”
The full statement can be seen below:
First Published On : Nov 28, 2012 11:05 IST