A television journalist has been arrested for allegedly blackmailing a doctor and Padma Shri winner over a private video clip. On Wednesday, he was remanded in police custody for four days.
Hemanth Kashyap, who worked with Kannada news channel Public TV, had allegedly blackmailed Ramana Rao B. with a video clip threatening to make it public if he did not pay him.
According to police sources, a journalist from another channel was also blackmailing the doctor over the same clip. “Initially, the doctor reportedly paid Kashyap ₹5 lakh in three instalments, but later lodged a complaint with the police when he started demanding ₹50 lakh for his silence,” said a senior police officer.
Kashyap’s mobile phone has been sent to the cyber crime cell of the CID, for a detailed analysis. “The journalist is suspected to be involved in similar offences in the past. A detailed call detail record analysis will reveal the nature of his activities,” the officer added.
The police are also on the lookout for the other journalist, Manjunath, an associate of Kashyap who works as a reporter with the news channel Samaya TV, as they suspect that he too was part of the blackmail and extortion racket. The police suspect that many others are involved in the racket.
“It was a private video and how Kashyap could have access to it is a part of our investigation,” the officer said.
The police claim to have “solid evidence” in the form of CCTV camera footage obtained from Dr. Rao’s clinic at Sadashivanagar, which allegedly shows the journalist receiving money on various days. “We have four clips of the accused collecting money from the doctor. The latest one was as recent as Tuesday evening when he was caught,” the police said.
When the doctor approached the police on Tuesday, they asked him to call Kashyap to his clinic to hand over ₹50 lakh. The police laid a trap and nabbed Kashyap when he came to collect the money.
According to sources, Kashyap told the police that many journalists are aware of the clip and wanted to be paid. “Hence, he decided to make the extortion demand. We are verifying his claims,” said the senior police officer.
He has been booked under Sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication), and 384 (extortion), 385 (putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
H.R. Ranganath, editor, Public TV, issued a video statement on Wednesday informing the network’s audience that the employee in question had been dismissed from work and that the channel would cooperate with the probe.