New Delhi: Zee News today demanded the immediate release of two of its senior journalists arrested in an extortion case filed by Congress MP Naveen Jindal, alleging that the police action was "illegal" and "designed for something else".
Denying allegations of attempt to extort Rs 100 crore from Jindal Power and Steel Ltd to not air news reports linking the company to the coal block allocation scam, Zee News CEO Alok Agrawal accused the UPA-II of intimidating the media to stop it from covering their mistakes.
Agrawal claimed that it was the Congress MP who offered money as bribe to Zee editors first and then to the company.
He alleged that Jindal also tried to influence several senior Zee functionaries not only directly but also through various people, including his brother Prithvi Jindal, uncle Sitaram Jindal and political leaders like Digivjay Singh, Raman Singh and Arjun Munda, adding they also requested the channel not to air stories against Jindal.
Agrawal said Jindal and Zee officials had a total conversation of six hours over half a dozen meetings and if any one was to take out only five per cent of these conversations "it can be distorted in any manner".
Sudhir Chaudhary, the head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business, were arrested last night in relation to a complaint by Jindal's company filed in October.
Questioning the arrests and its timing, Agrawal and Zee lawyer RK Handoo said the detentions were deliberately made before a holiday so that regular bail could be denied, adding that the arrest had been made under a section which speaks of a non-bailable offence and not a bailable offence.
"What was the need for the arrest. It was designed for something else. It is a nefarious gameplan," Handoo said.
On his part, Jindal today refused to comment on the developments saying, "the matter is subjudice. Delhi Police is investigating the matter. I am not commenting on this."