Manager, director of Surat media firm arrested in cheating case

Manager Mukhtar Baig and director Sitaram Adukiya of the firm were accused of showing more circulation copies of Satyam Times to get advertisement through DAVP.

Surat police on Wednesday arrested the manager and director of Sanket Media Pvt Ltd, owned by Surat city BJP vice-president PVS Sarma, on a complaint lodged by an income tax official, for their alleged involvement in cheating the government agencies and private advertising agencies to the tune of Rs 2.7 crore.

Manager Mukhtar Baig and director Sitaram Adukiya of the firm were accused of showing more circulation copies of Satyam Times, the daily newspaper published by the media company, in Gujarati and English, to get advertisement through DAVP and other advertising firms. Sarma attempted suicide by hanging earlier this week, and is in hospital.

Dr KD Pammaiya, deputy director of investigation wing of Surat income tax department, lodged a complaint against Sanket Media Pvt Ltd directors and others for their alleged involvement in making fake documents and forging circulation figures of their daily English and Gujarati news papers, to get more advertisements.

Pammaiya’s complaint states that between 2008-’09 to October 21, 2020, with the help of forged circulation figures, the media firm availed advertisments worth Rs 70 lakh from government agencies and Rs 2 crore from various advertising agencies.

During the search operation by the income tax department at Sarma’s house and his media firm, officials found that the firm directors had shown daily circulation of 23,500 copies of Satyam Times Gujarati edition and 6,000 copies of Satyam Times English edition.

During investigation, it was found that the daily circulation of Gujarati newspaper is of 600 copies and those of English ranged from 0 copies to 290 copies. The firm owners also had shown fake sales and purchase figures from fake firms, which actually does not exists.

Umra police registered offence under IPC sections 465, 468, 471, 420, 120(b) and arrested Sanket Media Pvt Ltd manager Mukhtar Baig and director Sitaram Adukiya on Wednesday.

Sarma attempted suicide on Monday by hanging at farm house in Navsari and is undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Surat. Police teams have been deployed at the hospital to arrest him once he is discharged.

Umra police inspector KB Zala said, “We have arrested two persons on the cheating complaint, while PVS Sarma is undergoing treatment after his suicide bid. We are investigating the case. The accused persons were involved in cheating government agencies and private advertising firms by forging the daily circulation figures of newspapers to benefit from DAVP advertisements.”

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