Telangana: In the latest development in the Nayeemuddin encounter episode, the Telangana police on Saturday submitted a remand report mentioning the names of 66 journalists for allegedly receiving bribes from the recently eliminated gangster.
The said event where bribes were received was a dinner arranged at Savera Hotel for reporters and cameramen who covered a Ganesha festival organised by Nayeem in 2015 and they were given Rs 1,000 each in an envelope with some reporters also getting watches as gifts, the police added.
Speaking to NNP, an inspector of Nalgonda I-town police station said “As of now, we have not taken any action against the 60 odd reporters. They had attended an event and were given money to ensure coverage of the event. If they had demanded the money, then they would be liable to be booked. We are looking at what can be done but mostly, no action will be taken against the journalists as we cannot book them. For now, we have only taken Hari Prasad into custody as he took large sums of money.”
“Further investigation is on, and we are trying to see how much influence Nayeem had on the media and if there are any more people who are deeply involved in the nexus,” he added.
Reacting to this, “This is an act of suppression. Two police officers have been suspended by the SIT but police have not mentioned (later reinstated after investigation) that in the remand report,” Kranti, Secretary of Telangana Union of Working Journalists told TNM.
Suggesting that the issue of covers or gifts in press meets was a common practice and it was not ‘illegal’, Kranti said police were trying to dissuade coverage of the issue.
The scribes’ body is also set to meet Medak SP, the officer heading the SIT on Monday regarding the issue, Kranti said.
Another journalist whose name features in the list on condition of anonymity, said there were many politicians of different parties including those of the ruling TRS who attended the event. He questioned why only journalists were named in the remand report.
This comes after initial reports soon after his death suggested Nayeem had heavily bribed various people in the media to put out news that was favourable to him.
Naxalite-turned-gangster Nayeem had formed a criminal nexus involved in many grabbings, extortions, kidnappings etc until he was allegedly killed by cops in an encounter on August 8.
It is no secret that Nayeem had access to influential politicians irrespective of political affiliations and higher ranked police officials.
The timing of the encounter had also been a subject of scrutiny. There were also a series of theories regarding the sudden encounter against the outlaw who escaped from police custody on more than ten occasions.
Following his death, the police arrested a number of his alleged associates in his clandestine operations which included journalist- Hari Prasad Reddy, CEO of an upcoming Telugu news channel – i10 news, allegedly funded by Nayeem.
Police also raided the news channel’s office at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, and seized items worth Rs 13.5 lakh.
The money was given to Hari Prasad via Tabrez, a student who was arrested a little earlier for being part of Nayeem’s gang.
According to the police, Hari Prasad confessed that he had accepted monetary favours from the slain gangster in his career.
“In the year 2012, he telecast some news that made Nayeem call him and threaten him. He received one more call later after he telecast another news against a TRS leader. In 2014, when working for 6-tv, he was asked to telecast a news item which would be paid and the channel received one lakh rupees. In 2015, he worked with Tabrez to ensure coverage of a Ganesh Idol at Prakashma bazaar in Nalgonda which was organized by Nayeem. Hari Prasad took Rs 50,000 for his channel and Rs 50,000 personally,” a police official said.
“Hari Prasad was also gifted an iPhone by Nayeem and following this, the latter decided to fund a media outlet that will be run by the former and gave him 13.5 lakh to start it – which was all seized,” the official claimed.