The Crime Branch of Delhi Police arrested three self-styled journalists who allegedly blackmailed politicians, doctors and businessmen into giving money.
"The gang ran a cyber news webpage www.dellitoday.com and allegedly used to threaten people by publishing negative news reports against them if they did not pay them money," said Ashok Chand, deputy commissioner of police (crime).
The arrested persons were identified as Pankaj Gupta (26), Raj Narain Tiwari (33) and Rajiv Kumar (31).
The police said that Tiwari is a Class 5 dropout, who started as a rickshaw puller and later worked as an LPG deliveryman. According to the police, he joined the syndicate a year ago and posed as a reporter.
The arrests came following investigations into a complaint filed by a man, Vijender Kumar, who runs a registered facility for medical termination of pregnancy.
The accused threatened to publish a story against Kumar's clinic for illegal abortions.
"The website had a story on a sting operation on Kumar by an investigating journalist Gupta. The caller demanded Rs 10 lakh to hush up the matter," Chand said.
According to the police officer, Kumar agreed to pay R6.5 lakh, of which R50,000 was to be paid immediately.
"With the complainant informing us, we laid a trap and Gupta and Tiwari were arrested following which Rajiv Kumar was also apprehended," said Chand.
The police said that Gupta is a graduate from Deen Dayal University Gorakhpur. In 2005, he came to Delhi and met Sanjay Tiwari, the self-styled CEO of www.ujalanews.com and chairman of NETV (Northeast TV) productions.
Sanjay, along with Gupta and other associates started extorting money from gas agency owners on the pretext that they did sting operations against their deliverymen stealing cooking gas from one cylinder and transferring it to another.
"Sanjay was later arrested in three cases of extortion. In 2007, Pankaj, Sanjay and Rajiv, along with other associates attempted to cheat four sitting Members of Parliament. One of the members of the syndicate posed as a staff member of the then minister of tribal affairs and stated that he would prepare a proposal of behalf of the MP and submit it to Planning Commission," added Chand.