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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Journalist Upendra Rai, ex-Sahara/Tehelka Editor & Radia Associate, Arrested by CBI

Journalist Upendra Rai, owner of ‘The Printlines Media Group’, has been arrested by CBI for fraud and corruption after raids on his office and residence. Zee Hindustan has reported that CBI has lodged an FIR against Rai for obtaining an Airport Entry Pass issued by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) through fraudulent means. This pass allows unrestricted entry to all airports in the country and was reportedly obtained by Rai after bribing certain bureaucrats in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Home Ministry.

Upendra Rai, aged just 36, is a well known name in Lutyens media circles. He has earlier worked as CEO and Editor-in-Chief at Tehelka, as Group CEO and Editor-in-Chief with Sahara News Network, and also worked for Network 18 (CNBC Awaaz) and Star News (now ABP News).

Apart from the Airport Entry Pass, news website PGurus has revealed that Rai was simultaneously holding a Press Information Bureau (PIB) Accreditation Card (No: 275 in Editor Category) which is meant only for persons who do the sole job of journalism and which allows access to North Block and South Block and other sensitive Government Offices. As Rai also holds the post of Director, Quality Control of a Chartered Flight firm ‘Air One’, it would mean that he made a fraudulent declaration to get hold of the PIB card as well which is reserved for journalists alone.

Incidentally, Tehelka’s founder Tarun Tejpal is currently facing prosecution on charges of sexually assaulting a female colleague, while Sahara Group founder Subrata Roy has spent time in jail for defrauding poor investors in his company.

Chidambaram Link

PGurus has also exposed the apparent relationship between Upendra Rai and controversial senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. In a series of articles, PGurus has shown how Rai has essentially acted as a benami petitioner & fixer to target ED (Enforcement Directorate) Investigating Officer Rajeshwar Singh who is probing the Aircel Maxis and other scams involving P Chidambaram & his son Karti. Rajeshwar Singh is also investigating the 2G and Sahara scam cases (Sahara group is also accused in the 2G scam).  In Nov last year, even the SC had to step in to restrain Central Government officials from taking any action against Singh based on anonymous complaints against him.

Anil Ambani, Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Subrata Roy

The Radia Link

Back in 2011, Enforcement Directorate has asked the CBI to probe an incident wherein Upendra Rai, then working as Director (News) Sahara News Network, had approached officer Rajeshwar Singh, probing the 2G scam, with a bribe offer of Rs two crore. Rai was said to be working on behalf of controversial Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia. Rai had denied the allegations and claimed he met Rajeshwar Singh merely for “5 minutes” and acknowledged knowing Nira Radia on the “professional front”.

Rai’s name had also cropped up in one of the leaked Radia tapes wherein she was discussing corruption in the judiciary with Sunil Arora, former chairman of Air India and a serving bureaucrat. When Arora informs Radia that a Delhi High Court judge, Justice Vijender Jain, was paid off Rs 9 crore in a sealing case by a middleman, she said

NR: Pathetic ha? Yeh hai na, yeh Upendra Rai (a journalist) ka brother-in-law, jo bhi hai uska…cousin brother—Pradip Rai—yehi to kaam karta hai.

(translation – “Isn’t it pathetic? (how judiciary can be fixed)…this Upendra Rai (a journalist) has a brother-in-law or cousin – Pradip Rai – he also does the same”

As per various sources – Pradeep Rai (same as Pradip Rai) was in Sahara Group along with Upendra, and is presently a senior Advocate practising in Supreme Court of India. 

Lavish Lifestyle of ‘Journalist’

In this article, PGurus revealed the assets allegedly amassed by Upendra Rai –

  • “Reliable sources have informed PGurus, that Upendra Rai also has two flats in Mumbai, one in Hazratganj in Lucknow, one in Pune and a huge bungalow in his village and a flat in London purchased along with Sandeep Wadhwa of the Sahara group. We have already reported that this notorious fixer is living in a Bungalow worth Rs.30 crores ($4.5 million) in South Delhi (C-24, Greater Kailash – I, New Delhi).
  • Upendra Rai also owns a flat worth Rs.10 crores ($1.5 million) in Asha Deep Building, Flat No 801, 9, Hailey Road, New Delhiwhich was brought from Naresh Prasad Sareen and Madhu Sareen for an amount of Rs.6.5 crores ($1 million).
  • Upendra Rai has an Audi 6 bearing registration number DL 3CCN 6148 worth Rs.70 lakhs ($106,000), Toyota Innova Crysta (DL3CCN 1915) worth Rs.25 lakhs($38,000), Maruti SX4 (DL9CX 3081) worth Rs.11 lakhs ($17,000) and a Honda Accord (DL3CBA 5300) worth Rs.26 lakhs($39,000)– all registered in his name.
  • This journalist travels by chartered aircraft very frequently – PGurus has learnt that it is an Embraer Jet VT-AOL aircraft owned by Air One Aviation.
  • Upendra Rai had purchased a Maybach car with a registration number of 1608 from Dimpy Motors. The price of this Maybach car is estimated to be around Rs.4 crores($604,000).
  • Interestingly, as per our source in the Sahara group, Sahara issued a payment of Rs.6 crores ($1 million) by cheque to Upendra Rai, between January 2017 and January 2018. The cash-starved Sahara Group can’t fulfill its commitments to the Supreme Court and SEBI but can give so much money to a journalist!
  • In addition, he was also in the payroll of the controversial media house, Tehelka, who were paying him Rs 10.5 lakhs ($16,000) per month from April 2016 to May 2017.  Upendra Rai has also allegedly taken a huge amount of money from the Binani Group and Yadav Singh for settling certain matters with the investigative departments of the Government of India.
  • Also, Upendra Rai has earned a membership in the posh Delhi Gymkhana club for which he paid Rs.30 lakhs ($45,000)”

Sahara group is very close to the Mulayam Yadav clan which runs Samajwadi Party, and it appears that Upendra Rai has exploited those political connections to the fullest.

The signs of the well-entrenched Lutyens’ ecosystem is showing signs of cracking – we, the people, have to ensure that the pressure is not released.

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