UDUPI: Kundapur police on Thursday arrested three journalists working for a weekly regional tabloid on charges of extortion. The police reportedly have recovered bogus press cards from them and are investigating whether they have committed similar offenses in the past. Dharmendra (37), Lokesh (35) and Manjunath (42), who worked for a tabloid called ‘Udaya Karnataka’ are the arrested. Another accused Vikram is still at large.
The accused allegedly threatened a businessman from Koteshwara saying they would publish his ‘misdeeds’ in the newspaper if he did not hand over Rs 1 lakh to them. The accused people had come in a car to FM Plastic waste plastic cutting and hydraulic pressing unit run by Farooq at Koteshwar on April 9. Farooq is also a scrap dealer.
The ‘journalists’ took advantage of the fact that he sourced medical waste from hospitals in order to blackmail him, it is said. They told him that he should not buy used glucose bottles and told him to throw them away. “You pay us Rs 1 lakh to close the chapter,” they allegedly told Farooq, giving him two days to pay the money or face the wrath from ‘officials’.
On April 12, one among the accused called Farooq over the phone to ask where and when they should come to collect the money. Three men then came in a car and told Farooq to pay them the money. Farooq told them he would follow the law and refused to pay. Two of the accused then snatched Rs 5,000 from Farooq. While leaving, they threatened to malign his reputation, it is said.
Farooq then registered a complaint against four journalists. Kundapur sub-inspector Harish R registered the case under sections 384, 392, 506 read with 34 of IPC. Police swung into action and arrested three of the four accused. They have been sent to judicial custody till April 20.