Two television reporters accused of sting and blackmail: ‘Rs 20 lakh or we air sex tape’

The owner of a garage in south Delhi has accused two television journalists and the head of an NGO of trying to extort Rs 20 lakh from him after having secretly filmed him with women who he says were prostitutes.

A city court Thursday directed the police to record the complainant's statement and seize the recording of a purported conversation he had with the alleged blackmailers.

The journalists — Bhumika Sharma, a correspondent with India TV, and Pradeep Srivastava, a senior special correspondent with ABP News — have been suspended, the two news organisations said late on Thursday night.

A statement issued by Delhi Police named the complainant as Vijay Kumar, a 53-year-old "car mechanic who runs a shop in the name of Motor craft in Vasant Vihar".

Kumar, the statement said, had complained that "one Manu Sharma... who runs an NGO in the name of People's Foundation, has provided girls for sexual intercourse at his address at Satya Niketan and prepared video clips with the help of two brothers Hunny and Sunny (both of whom are in the business of property dealing)".

"They are threatening to extort Rs 20 lakh by putting him in fear of implicating him in a false case of rape. One Ms Bhumika, an employee of India TV and Mr Pardeep working with ABP News also threatened the complainant to... settle the matter otherwise they said they would telecast the recording on TV," the statement said.

Police sources said Kumar had recorded his phone conversation with the accused, in the course of which they had allegedly tried to blackmail him. The CD containing the purported conversation would be sent for forensic examination, the sources said. They said police were investigating the possible involvement of a third journalist in the case.

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