New Delhi: Zee News on Tuesday night vehemently denied all allegations of extortion levelled against it and described the arrests of two of its senior journalists as a "crude and direct attack on the freedom of the press".
Sudhir Chaudhary, head of Zee News, and Samir Ahluwalia, head of Zee Business, were arrested by Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Tuesday following the registration of an extortion case about 45 days ago on a complaint by Congress MP Naveen Jindal's company.
The channel accused the Jindal Steel and Power Limited, owned by Congress MP Naveen Jindal, of "using state machinery, controlled by the Congress party both at the centre and Delhi, to muzzle voices of dissent and interfere with the legitimate rights of the Media to divert attention and cloud its illegalities and misdeeds which these editors in the channel sought to highlight in public interest , highlighting the corruption in the coal gate scam after being indicted by CAG, and being investigated by the CBI."
In a statement, the company said: "After over 65 years of independence, now the present Congress-led government is pushing media not to say the truth and gag its mouth. It is practically Emergency revisited in India today on November 27, 2012 (this will be known as another black day in Indian History).
"While the matter is sub-judice before the Hon'ble High Court of Bombay, to circumvent the judicial process and the orders of the Hon'ble Mumbai High Court, the Delhi police at the behest of its Congress MP orchestrated arrests of two Senior Editors of Zee News Channel, Sh Samir Ahluwalia and Sh Sudhir Chowdhary, on the basis of a fraudulent and contrived complaint filed on behalf of his company Jindal Steel and Power Limited.
"The arrests have been made to sensationalize the issue and lend a cover to the coal-gate scam and in particular to favour of Shri Naveen Jindal, Congress MP and his company M/S Jindal Steel and Power Limited."
"This is a crude and direct attack on the freedom of the Press."
"The FIR registered against the two Editors and others, is nothing but a clever attempt to divert attention from its own role in the scam. The channel vehemently denies all allegations levelled against it.
The channel strongly condemns the arbitrary and illegal action of Delhi Police in arresting its two editors and for initiating a malicious, illegal and motivated prosecution. We wish to reiterate that no offence has been committed by members of staff," the statement said.