The Kerala Police on Tuesday arrested the chief executive officer and four journalists working with the TV channel that had carried out a “sting operation” against former Kerala Transport Minister AK Saseendran, PTI reported. The broadcast had led to the minister’s resignation.
The special investigation team interrogated the accused before arresting CEO of Mangalam TV channel R Ajit Kumar and journalists SV Pradeep, MB Santhosh, Feroz Muhammed and Jayachandran, the news agency reported. They will be produced in court on Wednesday, police said.
The police questioned four other people named in the FIR, but released them after later. On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court had rejected the anticipatory bail plea of the nine accused.
In its launch bulletin on March 26, the channel had aired an audio clip in which a male voice, which it claimed was Saseendran’s, is heard seeking sexual favours from a woman. Kumar said that it was a staged sting operation conducted by eight senior journalists of the channel.
“A reporter had taken up the responsibility voluntarily...We admit that it was wrong on our part to not have released the entire audio,” the CEO said, according to The News Minute. Kumar apologised for any inconvenience caused to other women journalists.
Questions were raised about the authenticity of the clip and the channel’s decision to air only the parts in which the man can be heard, without explaining why the woman’s voice had been edited out. Although the channel had claimed that a woman had approached them with a complaint, no one has approached the police against Saseendran.
The channel’s apology came after a number of journalists criticised the purported exposé. They said the channel had sensationalised and misrepresented the story. The state government had also announced its decision to inquire into the matter. Director General of Police Loknath Behra had formed an investigation team of six officers to examine the audio clip and the allegations.
Although the Elathoor MLA had resigned after the allegations of sexual harassment, he had told Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that there was something “unnatural” about the news report.