Kannada TV channel CEO arrested for extortion, blackmail in Bengaluru: Police
Janasri News channel CEO Lakshmiprasad Vajapai was arrested as he used the channel as an “instrument” to run his “network” of extortion, police said.india Updated: Apr 15, 2017 21:31 IST
The CEO of a Kannada news channel linked to controversial mining baron G Janardhan Reddy was arrested on charges of extortion, blackmail and criminal intimidation, police said on Saturday.
Lakshmiprasad Vajpayi, the CEO of Janashri News Channel, was late Friday night while allegedly accepting Rs 10 crore from a businessman whom he had threatened to defame through his channel.
The channel had aired a “negative” news item against the businessman on Friday afternoon, a police officer said.
The channel was started by aides close to mining baron G Janardhan Reddy when he was Karnataka tourism minister.
A police officer said Vajpayi, colluding with some of his colleagues, had demanded Rs 15 crore from the businessman and was caught while accepting the first installment.
Bengaluru additional commissioner of police Hemanth Nimbalkar told reporters a similar case was was registered against Vajpayi a year ago when he allegedly demanded Rs 10 crore in cash and jewellery worth Rs 30 lakh from another businessman.
Nimbalkar added Friday’s operation had given them leads into several similar cases of extortion by Vajpayi and Janashri News.
This is a new low for the Kannada news channel which once occupied the number 2 position in ratings and created a major disruption in the journalism jobs market when it started in 2010-11 by offering salaries that were unheard of at the time.
The first slump came when Janardhan Reddy was arrested in connection with an illegal iron ore mining scam in November 2015. Following Reddy’s incarceration, the management failed to pay salaries of Janashri’s staff for several months.
The channel has seen many ups and downs and restructuring exercises but has never quite regained the popularity it enjoyed when Reddy was in power.
BKBN Murthy, the channel’s managing director, declined to comment on the arrest.