New Delhi: The two-day police custody of Zee editors Sudhir Chaudhry and Samir Ahluwalia will end on Monday. The crime branch will continue to interrogate Zee owner Subhash Chandra. He was questioned for about seven hours on Sunday. Speaking to the media he said he had no knowledge of the deal to extort money from Jindal Steel till the October 7.
Chandra said he will file a defamation case against Jindal. His son Puneet also was questioned but he left the Crime Branch office within 30 minutes after their arrival at 1.30 pm. After the nine-and-half-hour questioning and confronting them with two arrested editors, police asked the father and son to appear before investigations on Sunday afternoon.
Both Chandra and Puneet came to Crime Branch office at around 1. 30 pm on Sunday. On Saturday, the questioning lasted till 11.30 pm. "Yesterday, police work did not finish. They asked us to come again today. If they call us again we will cooperate. We have been cooperating. As of now questioning is over," Chandra said. He said police asked him whether he knew about the deal and he answered in the negative.
Chandra also claimed that police did not ask him about any dummy agreement given by editors to Jindal company. He said he got a text message from Naveen Jindal asking him whether he can meet Chandra, who was in US at that time. "I told him that if it was urgent he can call him. He said there was nothing urgent and then when he said he wanted to meet, I said, let's meet in November first week," he said.
Asked whether he knew that his editors were doing a deal, he said "I did not know. There is no Rs 100 crore deal. We haven't been saying anything. I came to know about the FIR only on October 7." Zee Editors Sudhir Chaudhury and Samir Ahluwalia, who had been remanded to two days' police custody by a court, were brought to the Crime Branch office last night where Chandra and his son were being questioned.
Chandra had secured an interim protection from arrest till December 14 from a Delhi court. In a late night statement yesterday, Zee Group said both Chandra and Puneet Goenka extended fullest cooperation to Delhi Police so that truth emerges. "We expect justice and a fair inquiry. The fullest cooperation ended attempted misimpressions that Mr. Chandra and Goenka were avoiding joining the investigations," it said.
"Now that Chandra and Goenka have joined the investigations, police have no ground to oppose the bail of the two editors," Zee News Ltd's counsel Vijay Aggarwal said. During questioning on Saturday, sources said Chandra and Puneet denied the allegations and claimed it was an attempt to scuttle news reports on coalgate scam. Sources said Chandra was asked whether Alhuwalia had telephoned him and informed him about the discussions with Jindal's company.
Police had claimed to have phone call records to show that Ahluwalia spoke to Chandra for nearly three minutes explaining about the discussions. Chandra's questioning came after police sent three notices to him asking him to join the investigations in the case in which Chaudhury and Ahluwalia were arrested late last month following investigations into a complaint filed on October 2.
Chandra had earlier told the police that he could not appear before them as he was out of the country but later on December 3 he told them he will be ready to appear within 96 hours of notice. Police then asked him to appear before them on Saturday.
Investigators told a local court earlier that they were treating Chandra as an accused as he knew about the dealings between his employees and Jindal's company. Zee Group has denied the allegations of extortion and demanded the immediate release of its two senior journalists, alleging the police action was "illegal" and "designed for something else".
With additional information from PTI