Dehradun, Oct 29: The CEO and editor-in-chief of Samachar Plus was arrested and sent to judicial remand till November 8 for allegedly conducting sting operations on prominent politicians and bureaucrats in Uttarakhand with an intent to extort money, officials said Monday.
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Umesh Kumar Sharma was arrested from his Ghaziabad residence on Sunday after a journalist working with the channel accused him of putting undue pressure on him to conduct sting operations on prominent politicians in Uttarakhand, including a former chief minister.
“Sharma was produced Monday before the additional chief judicial magistrate here. He has been sent to judicial remand till November 8,” Dehradun Senior Superintendent of Police Nivedita Kukreti told reporters.
The Noida headquartered regional news channel has presence in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
According to Uttarakhand Additional Director General (law and order) Ashok Kumar, Sharma had hatched a conspiracy to destabilise the state government and blackmail senior politicians and bureaucrats by conducting sting operations on them.
The channel was in news in 2016 when it conducted a sting operation on the then chief minister Harish Rawat showing him negotiating a deal to bribe disgruntled MLAs and buy their support ahead of a floor test in the state assembly.
Citing the FIR lodged in connection with the case, the ADG said Sharma was mounting pressure on a subordinate to do the same and grind his own axe.
“He told his subordinate that by doing so everyone would be under their control and none of their work would get obstructed,” the ADG said.
Sharma’s arrest followed raids at his office in Noida and residence in Ghaziabad, he said.
The action was taken after a journalist working with the channel, Ayush Gaud, had lodged a complaint against Sharma in August. He had accused Sharma of threatening to eliminate him after he failed to do a sting operation on prominent politicians and senior bureaucrats of the state, police said.
The FIR on the basis of which Sharma was arrested accuses him and four others of conducting sting operations on senior politicians and bureaucrats with the purpose of blackmailing them and extorting money from them.
The ADG said the role of the four others named in the case is being probed.
A case has been registered against Sharma under IPC section 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt), 388 (extortion by threat of accusation of an offence) and 120 b (criminal conspiracy), Kumar said.
Police recovered Rs 39.73 lakh in cash, USD 16,279, Thai currency Baht 11030 besides a number of mobile phones, hard disc, pen drives, memory cards, i-Pad, laptop and camera from Sharma’s office and residence, the ADG said.