ELURU: Five persons - all media professionals - were arrested by the Three Town police here Sunday on charges of blackmailing a Catholic priest Fr P Bala who is the secretary and correspondent of St. Joseph’s Dental College at Duggirala in West Godavari district.
The arrested persons include a former TV anchor Vandrapati Harsha Vardhan (40), ‘Satya Sakshi’ channel organiser Pastor Bandi Babullok (50) of Nallajerla, reporter Boda Vijay Kumar (34) of Eluru, Veeranki Chiranjeevi (39) of Komdavolu village and reporter Dirisipamu Vijaya Ratnam (35) of Ungutur.
Harsha Vardhan, who anchored a TV programme featuring crime news on a vernacular channel, later began a career as film actor. He had also worked for the Information and Broadcasting Department for a brief period.
Speaking to reporters here Sunday, DSP M Satti Babu said the accused obtained certain information about St. Joseph’s Dental College. One week ago, they rang up Fr Bala and demanded `10 crore from him and threatened to reveal certain secrets about the college to TV channels.
Fr Bala asked the accused to collect the money at his office Saturday and informed the police about the same. Accordingly, the accused did go to the office but soon took to heels sensing something wrong on the campus.
However, the police chased them and arrested Babulok and Chiranjeevi at Bhimadolu Saturday night. Later, they apprehended Harshavardhan, Vijaya Kumar and Vijaya Ratnam at Benz Cirlce in Vijayawada.
Cases were filed against the accused under Sections 67A of IPC, 148, 506 and 384 read with Section 34. Investigation is on.