Nearly three weeks after filing an FIR of extortion against Sudhir Chaudhary, editor of Zee News and another top executive of the company, Congress MP and Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) chairman Naveen Jindal showed tapes purportedly recorded in a sting operation alleging that the channel tried to blackmail the company.
Addressing a press gathering, Jindal said, "We were forced to take such an action against Zee as for past one month they had been showing baseless, false and fabricated news to malign my name and that of my company.
"On approaching Zee to clarify our stance, we were asked to provide monetary favours. We were shocked to hear this as in 40 years of our existence, we have never been blackmailed."
Jindal also showed a video footage that showcased conversation between Choudhary and Samir Ahluwalia both from the Zee and Jindal Steel's representatives in meetings held on September 10, 17 and 19.
Jindal alleged that the channel told his company's representatives that if they did not spend Rs. 100 crore on advertising, they would air stories on his (Jindal's) involvement in the coal scam and as to how his company was allocated coal fields.
A high drama was witnessed amidst all this when a family member of an RTI activist from Chhattisgarh shouted slogans against Jindal.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police said the Zee news editors have joined the investigation and are cooperating with them. "The investigations are on and we will record the statement of all the parties concerned," a senior officer said.
In a statement issued later, Zee News said, "We condemn and completely reject the CD produced by Jindal. We see this as a deliberate attempt to malign and to defame us."
"We have been the forerunner in exposing Naveen Jindal's double standards as a politician and industrialist in coalgate. To suppress the coverage that Zee News was telecasting on coalgate, corporate communications team from JSPL first tried to bribe Samir Ahluwalia with Rs. 25 crore, which he declined straightway. This was an offer from JSPL to stop the coverage. Undeterred, the JSPL team offered Zee News and Zee Business and advertising deal of Rs. 100 crore…," the statement read.
"In pursuit of seeking truth in the coalgate, we have had several interactions with Jindal and his officials. His chose to display doctored CD where only selected portions are shown. In view of the fact that similar false allegations have been made against us in a police complaint, his press conference is a clear, subversion of the due process of law," the statement read.