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New Delhi: Television news channel Republic Bangla Wednesday suspended its reporter Avishek Sengupta after it came to light that he had been booked on charges of abducting a businessman and extorting Rs 15 lakh from his family.

Republic Media Network announced Sengupta’s suspension on Twitter and said: “Republic Bangla has suspended from service Avishek Sengupta. Avishek Sengupta was under probation and was not a confirmed employee of Republic Bangla. His probation stands suspended effective 25 May 2021.”

Sengupta has been absconding since Monday, when the alleged abduction took place, according to the police.

Sengupta, along with four others, allegedly met businessman Ajit Roy Monday posing as CBI officers, and took him away claiming that they had arrest warrants against him.

According to the FIR lodged against the accused at the Kasba police station in south Kolkata Monday, the five had demanded a ransom of Rs 2 crore from Roy’s wife but later settled for Rs 15 lakh, before releasing the businessman.

Police sources said three of Sengupta’s accomplices, Swarup Roy, Pratik Sarkar and Rajesh Adhikar, have been arrested.

The police also said more people were believed to be involved in the case, and that they had collected CCTV footage from various places to hunt for Sengupta.

The police have charged him under sections 170 (pretending to be a public servant), 364A (kidnapping for ransom), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

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Avishek Sengupta covered CBI for Republic Bangla

According to the police sources, the fact that Avishek Sengupta impersonated a CBI official and kidnapped Roy came to light during the course of the investigation. Sengupta covered CBI for Republic Bangla.

The officers noted that after Roy was picked up by Sengupta and his accomplices, his wife went to the CBI office looking for him and discovered that no case had been filed against the businessman by the investigating agency. 

She later started receiving calls for ransom and agreed to pay Rs 15 lakh to get her husband back.

Meanwhile, according to the Republic Network’s statement, the former reporter remained unreachable despite multiple attempts to contact him and the company was also unaware of his whereabouts.

“The immediate suspension from the rolls of our channel, due to the alleged breach of his terms of engagement and company policies, reflects the highest standards of ethics and probity of our Network, which has no room for such illegal actions,” the press release said.

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