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Sting operation: India TV, Dainik Jagran and others accused of propagating Hindutva

Sting operation: India TV, Dainik Jagran and others accused of propagating Hindutva

Operation 136: As called ‘historic’ by CobraPost -a media and production house- in its sting operations report on Monday has claimed to have found a number of media houses that were ready to propagate Hindutva agenda for money. The sting operation shows, how marketing heads of different media groups were ready to compromise the basic tenets of journalism and polarise the electorate.

A senior journalist Pushp Sharma in undercover alias ‘Acharya Atal’ met with alleged representatives of India TV, Dainik Jagran, Hindi Khabar, SAB TV, DNA (Daily News and Analysis), Amar Ujala, UNI, 9X Tashan, Samachar Plus, HNN 24*7, Punjab Kesari, Swatantra Bharat, ScoopWhoop, Rediff.com, IndiaWatch, Aj and Sadhna Prime News.

Sharma said that most of the media houses not only agreed to do what he asked for but also suggested numerous ways for undertaking the communal campaigns. The alleged media house representatives can also be seen talking about cash payments and the ratio of the mode of payment.

“Multiple employees of Amar Ujala daily newspaper agree to run content to promote Hindutva before 2019 elections,” CobraPost said.

According to an excerpt from Cobrapost website, here is a list of what came out of all interactions that Sharma had during the course of this investigation:

They agreed to promote Hindutva in the garb of spiritualism and religious discourse.
They agreed to publish content with potential to polarize the electorate along communal lines.
They concurred to besmirch or thrash political rivals of the party in power by posting or publishing defamatory content about them.
Many of them were ready to accept cash, which in other words is black money, for the job to be assigned to them.
Some of the owners or important functionaries, who the reporter interacted with, admitted that they were either associated with the RSS or they were pro-Hindutva and would thus be happy to work on the campaign, forgetting the cardinal principle of journalism: neutrality. A typical example of conflict of interest.
Some of them agreed to plant stories in favour of the party in power in their publications.
Many of them agreed to develop and carry advertorials especially for this purpose.
Almost all agreed to run this campaign on their platforms – print, electronic or digital in its various avatars such as e-news portal, e-paper or social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Some of them offered to do a complete media management to plant stories favouring the party in power in other publications with help from journalists other than their own organizations.
Some of them even agreed to run down Union ministers Arun Jaitly, Manoj Sinha, Jayant Sinha, Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi.
Some of them also agreed to run stories against leaders of BJP alliance partners, like Anupriya Patel, Om Prakash Rajbhar and Upendra Kushwaha.
Some of them also agreed to defame the most noted and celebrated among the legal tribe and civil society like Prashant Bhushan, Dushyant Dave, Kamini Jaiswal and Indira Jai Singh.
Some of them even agreed to paint agitating farmers as Maoists in their stories.
Many of them agreed to create and promote such content as would aim for the “character assassination” of leaders like Rahul Gandhi.

The reaction of media houses on sting operation:

“I don’t believe in the credibility of the video,” Sanjay Gupta, head of the Jagran group told the Indian Express. The company executive caught on tape went “way beyond his boundaries” and had no authority to “commit such thing”, and would be proceeded against if the recording were found to be authentic, he added.

Whereas, president-sales, Sudipto Chowdhury of India TV called the video “doctored”. He insisted that all the “proposals discussed or put forward” by the CobraPost reporter “were in fact entirely turned down by the editorial and legal teams of India TV”.

“It is pertinent to state that Cobrapost has, to their advantage, concealed important aspects of the discussion only to sensationalise the story and for their self-serving interests….it is the voiceover in the offending story that is drawing unfounded and self-serving conclusions. India TV will be taking strictest legal action to seek redressal for the same,” Chowdhury said.

The investigative journalist had made headlines in 2016 when he covered a story in Milli Gazette on how the Ministry of AYUSH in an RTI reply admitted that Muslims were not considered for overseas assignments as yoga trainers in 2015 as a matter of policy. In its aftermath, he was also arrested but then was released on bail. The is case is still pending the trail court.