Zee News came out strongly in defence of its arrested editors, calling the arrest 'illegal' and claimed that the arrest was an attack on the freedom of the press by the government, led by the Congress.
Zee News CEO Alok Agarwal alleged that Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal tried to bribe the channel's executives. "The fact is that Naveen Jindal tried to bribe first the executives and then the Zee Channel not to publish the story," Agarwal said.
Delhi police on Tuesday, Nov 27 arrested Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia, the head of Zee News and chief of Zee Business, respectively. Action against the two senior journalists was taken following a report submitted by forensic lab which confirmed that the sting operation video, carried by Jindal, was genuine.
Jindal earlier had filed a criminal case against Zee News accusing the reporters of demanding Rs 100 crore to block airing a video tape which allegedly had showed involvement of Jindal's company in coal block allocation scam. The steel tycoon had bashed the news channel owned by Subhash Chandra while releasing the tape.
The MP had said, "Media in our country has to be above suspicion. Media has played a crucial role in our country. Jindal Steel and Power Ltd has faced an incident on which I want to give a pure version. The way Zee TV has carried the news, it has become important for me to share."
However, Zee Television group had overruled all allegations against them stating that they had asked for money over advertisement commitments worth crores of rupees. Zee Group had also filed Rs 150 crore defamation case against Mr Jindal accusing the steel tycoon of defaming them after wrongly filing blackmailing and extortion case against them.
Punit Goenka, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, was quoted as saying, "This kind of allegation has happened in the past and may happen in the future. It doesn't make any difference to us and we will stick to the truth. These are all pressure tactics."
Mr Chandra had refuted allegations hurled against his reporters and also alleged that Jindal had misbehaved with Zee TV reporters after they sought clarifications on the allegations levelled against his company for alleged irregularities in coal scam.