4 journalists arrested for blackmailing police in Noida

Noida (UP): Phone chats and audio clips of four journalists, arrested for allegedly blackmailing police personnel, reveal that they indulged in unethical journalism, officials here said on Saturday.

The Whatsapp messages and the audio clips have been sent for forensic tests and during investigation more details have emerged about the scribes, some of whom face criminal cases, they said.

The four journalists, who run separate news portals and a local daily, were arrested on 23 August on charges of blackmailing police personnel by circulating negative stories and using their influence, officials said.

Sushil Pandit, Udit Goel, Chandan Rai, Nitesh Pandey and Raman Thakur, who is absconding, have been booked under the Gangsters Act. During investigation, more details emerged about the involvement of Pandit, Goel and Thakur in yellow journalism, District Magistrate B N Singh and Noida SSP Vaibhav Krishna said in a press conference and added that there are criminal cases against Rai and Pandey.

“Pandit, Thakur and Goel were caught on January 30 night from the Sector 20 police station area in a raid in which a police inspector, Manoj Pant, was arrested for taking bribe. The three journalists, who had taken a share of Rs 2 lakh each during the deal, were also arrested but released on bail. They have since been spreading negative words about the Noida SSP,” Singh said.

Krishna said, “We have multiple call audios and chats in which they have accepted that the news is fake but it will be sensational.” “Rai has also allegedly taken money from police personnel to ‘help’ with transfers and favourable postings. He also has a case in this regard in Bulandshshar but he never appeared for court dates in this matter,” the SSP said.

Rai, who lives in Ghaziabad, has been involved in cases of fraud and multiple FIRs have been registered against him, while Pandey, who stays in Lucknow, is accused of grabbing a property in Gomti Nagar, the district magistrate said. Pandey’s relatives have captured land in Garhi Chaukhandi in Noida which belongs to the Noida authority, Singh said.

“The investigation so far has concluded that the five operated with the motive – widespread negative publicity against the Noida SSP in order to pressure him into working for their vested interest,” he added. Singh said the accused have violated journalistic ethics for their personal greed. Noida Police has sent all electronic evidence to a national forensic lab and the report is awaited while a search is on for the fifth accused, he added.