News channel CEO held for extortion

News channel CEO held for extortion

The chief executive officer (CEO) of a Kannada news channel was arrested by the police for blackmailing a city-based businessman and extorting money from him, for not airing derogatory programmes against him.

Based on a complaint by the victim, the Koramangala police arrested Lakshmiprasad Vajapai (42), CEO of Janasri channel, while accepting the first instalment of the pay-off at his office on Friday.

“The premises of the channel was raided when the complainant had handed over the first instalment, which was seized. The accused Vajapai and Mithun, who received money, were arrested,” said Hemant Nimbalkar, Additional Commissioner of Police (East), adding Vajapai had demanded a total of Rs 10 crore and had even aired a brief episode to threaten the businessman.

According to police, Vajapai is a repeat offender. They said he would first select a businessman or a jeweller and initially, air brief negative news about him. Vajapai would then contact the businessman/jeweller and tell him that he had more records and information about him that he would air on his channel. He would then place his demand for pay-off, the police said.

A similar case was registered against Vajapai and his associates at the Commercial Street police station earlier this year, for extorting Rs 10 crore and jewellery worth Rs 30 lakh from a businessman. Vajapai had received Rs 10 crore as pay-off through bank transfer in the name of various entities. The total pay-off demand was made for Rs 15 crore, police said.

There is another FIR pending against Vajapai  at Mahalakshmi Layout police station over extorting money from a businessman using the same modus operandi, police said. Vajapai’s four gunmen from Uttar Pradesh have also been arrested. The police are verifying whether these men had valid licences for their firearms.

M B Boralingaiah, deputy commissioner of police (south east division), said the police were probing Vajapai’s antecedents and whether he was involved in any other extortion case earlier.

Vajapai was produced before the jurisdictional magistrate, who remanded him in police custody for five days. Mithun was remanded in judicial custody. The police have booked Vajapai under Arms Act as his gunmen had brandished a revolver at the victim.

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