News channel ‘CEO’, staff held for extorting and blackmailing Bengaluru spas

While the cops have arrested two persons including the main accused, the hunt is on to nab the news channel's anchor Divya Vasanth.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jul 08, 2024 | 10:42 PM Updated Jul 08, 2024 | 10:42 PM

Karnataka Raj News Extortion Bengaluru City Police

In a shocking turn of events, Rajankunte Venkatesh, who reportedly claims to be the CEO of a Kannada news channel, has landed behind bars after he found himself on the other side of the camera, accused of extortion and blackmail.

His alleged game of cat and mouse with two spas in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar has landed him in hot water, with the police taking swift action.

Venkatesh’s arrest, along with his aide Sandesh, has sent shockwaves through the city’s media circles, as the complainants alleged that the CEO of the private regional news channel and his employees tried to extort them.

Based on complaints, two separate FIRs have been registered against the ‘Raj News CEO’ and his employees in Indiranagar PS and Jeevan Bima Nagar PS, respectively.

While the police have arrested two persons including the main accused, the police are on a hunt to nab the remaining accused including the said news channels’ anchor Divya Vasanth.

However, the channel in question — Raj News — claimed that Rajankunte Venkatesh was a mere contract employee and was not the CEO of this media house.

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Two FIRs against Raj News ‘CEO’ over extortion

Two separate First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered against a 52-year-old man claiming to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Raj News in Bengaluru recently.

Both the FIRs have been registered in Bengaluru’s East Division. The first complaint was registered at Jeevan Bhima Nagar PS on 1 July and the second case filed at Indiranagar PS on 5 July.

25-year-old Shivashankar Kanakappa, a resident of Indiranagar and manager at Tree Spa and Beauty Massage Parlour, filed a complaint against Venkatesh and other news channel employees on 1 July.

In the complaint, Shivashankar alleged: “On 21 June, a woman named Kim Kongesai from Northeast India called to inquire about a job at the parlour. We offered her a 10-day trial basis position.”

“On 26 June, a man named Sandesh visited the parlour, requesting a jacuzzi massage and specifically asking for Kim to perform the massage in a room called ‘Mantra’. We fulfilled his requests, and he paid 7,500 after the 90-minute massage. However, the woman gave the massage has not returned to work since,” explained Shivashankar.

He continued: “On 27 June, at around 1 pm, two women and a man claiming to be Raj News employees visited the spa. One of them handed me a phone, saying the Raj News CEO was on the line. The CEO asked if we were running a spa or engaging in prostitution. I assured him we were a professional spa and did not engage in illegal activities. He claimed to have video evidence to support his allegations and used offensive language.”

“One of the individuals showed me an intimate video from the spa, leaving me shocked. They demanded 15 lakh to delete the videos. I offered to pay 50,000 to 1 lakh. Then he demanded Rs 8 lakh on 30 June. I demand action against the accused including three persons who visited the spa,” urged Shivashankar.

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Another similar complaint has been registered against the alleged Raj News CEO Rajankunte Venkatesh on the charges of extortion by Sahara International Spa at Indiranagar PS on 5 July.

Complainant Mahesh Shetty accused Venkatesh of extorting 25 lakh by threatening to telecast on their channel about the Sahara International Spa allegedly running a prostitution racket.

He further claimed that he paid 2 lakh in four instalments between 29 June and 1 July. The Raj News ‘CEO’ also demanded to send 20,000 every month without fail, threatening to telecast about the spa.

The Jeevan Bima Nagar PS have acted swiftly and arrested two persons connected to the extortion case. Rajankunte Venkatesh and Sandesh have been remanded to judicial custody.

Police are in search for the remaining accused including anchor Divya Vasanth, who is a sister of Sandesh.

Bengaluru East DCP D Devaraj told South First: “The main accused has been arrested. The accused involved in this case are employees of Raj News. We are in search of the remaining accused. I will not be able to disclose more details as the investigation is still underway.”

(Edited by Neena)

(South First is now on WhatsApp and Telegram)