An audio of a Zee reporter allegedly asking for Rs 10 lakh or a flat from builder in Uttarakhand has gone viral on social media platforms.
The reporter in question is Naresh Gupta, who works for the channel as its Uttarakhand correspondent.
In the audio (below) published by a website bhadas4media.com, the Zee reporter is heard talking about a disputed land.
In the 13-minute-long audio, Gupta can also be heard informing the builder (Raju Ahuja) that he had gone gone easy on the reportage of the disputed land but can go big after he gets more papers related to the property.
When asked by Ahuja, the Zee reporter expresses his desire for a flat. But, as the conversation moves on, he changes his demand and is heard asking for Rs 10 lakh for himself, ‘two cameramen’ and one Dharmendra Chaudhary, who reportedly works for India News from Uttarakhand.
jantakareporter.com, is in no position to confirm whether Dharmednra Chaudhary had given his consent to Gupta to speak on his behalf as can be heard in the tape.
We contacted Zee News’ official spokesperson said, “Mr Naresh Gupta is not an employee of Zee News and is a stringer, who provides news reports under a contract for service. His services have been discontinued pending investigation of the issue.”
When contacted, Ahuja said that while he was aware of the audio doing the rounds, he suspected foul play by Naresh Gupta’s rivals in media denying he ever spoke to him.
He, however, admitted owning the disputed land in the past.
He told jantakareporter.com, “I don’t even know Naresh Gupta or Dharmendra Chaudhary. I won’t be able to recognise them if you bring them in front of me. I owned that disputed land in partnership with four other people, but we sold it off as soon as we came to know it was disputed.”
Many journalists working for other channels in the region said that Gupta and few other journalists had become notorious in the region for carrying out ‘extortion racket’ thereby bringing disrepute to the profession of journalism.