Reactions: Operation 136

In order to see if they stood by what they had agreed to in their interactions with senior journalist Pushp Sharma, Cobrapost sought reactions from as many owners or functionaries as possible through e-mail or by calling them up before the story Operation 136 was released.

Here, we reproduce some excerpts of the reactions we have received.

Sudipto Chaudhuri, Executive President, India TV, via e-mail:

At the outset, we categorically deny the contents of your e-mail. However, since we have received your e-mail at around 12 noon today, we are in the process of appropriately responding to your allegations. In the meanwhile, we call upon you not to release any story or statement proposed by you in your trailing e-mail without our comments. Any such release of story or statement prior to receiving our response shall be unethical, unfair and illegal, and would constrain us to take recourse to appropriate civil and criminal remedies. Therefore, refrain from releasing any comments and story without our prior comments as subsequent publication of the same would lead to irreparable loss to our reputation and goodwill and will be violating all norms of journalistic ethics. We shall be sending you the response within the next few hours.

Amit Sharma, CEO, HNN Live

Sharma remembers his meeting with Pushp Sharma alias Acharya Atal and the conversation that they had on phone. He also recalls the agenda he had agreed to undertake: “Mujhe bilkul clear hai brother wo aa gaye the office aur meri telephonic baat bhi hui thi (It is clear to me brother. He had come to my office and we had a telephonic conversation also).” But when he comes to know the caller is from Cobrapost and the purpose of the interview that Pushp Sharma had with him, he is unable to understand what it was all about, and when the reality sinks in he immediately switches to denial mode: “Negative campaign kee baat unhone humse nahi kahi unhone ye kaha ki Hindutva ko barhava do. Unhone koi aisi cheej nahi kahi ki aap negative chalao (He did not ask me to run a negative campaign. He told me to promote Hindutva. He did not ask me anything like you run a negative campaign).”

Harish Sharma, Sr. Business Executive, Punjab Kesari

Harish Sharma members that he definitely met the senior journalist but fails to recall anything what had transpired between them with regard to the agenda.

Amit Tyagi, Sr. Sales Head, Samachar Plus, Noida

Tyagi not only clearly remembers his meeting with the senior journalist but he is also able to recall what the agenda was. He says: “Bilkul ho gai thi Sir saari baat ho rakhi hai (Yes, we had spoken [on all main issues] Sir. We had discussed all the things).” He is able to recall that his visitor had asked for editorial support from his channel in his agenda: “Haan haan milega kyon nahi milega Sir (Yes, yes. You will get [editorial support from us]. Why not)?” In this conversation, he also says that he has already discussed the proposition with his superior Umesh. When he is asked if his superior knows all those things, Tyagi says: “Bilkul hai Sir (Sure, it is [in his knowledge] sir).”

But the moment he is told that the caller is from the Cobrapost and it was an undercover operation, Tyagi drops the phone.

Ashok Mishra, Sadhna Prime News

Mishra is quite forthcoming in sharing all what had been discussed with him and his owner. He is able to recall main points like promotion of Hindutva and defaming of political leaders on which they agreed on camera. When he is told that the call was just to confirm what had been discussed and decided between their visitor and them, Mishra says: “Nahi nahi saari baat ho gai thi (No, no everything had been discussed).

However, the moment he comes to know the real identity of their visitor, he reverts as if he was a complete stranger. It is interesting to hear what he says: “Ye jo udaharan aap de rahe hain ye sab kab baat hui thi (All these instances you are referring to when did we discuss them)?” Yes we had discussed all these with you, we insist. “Kab hui thee (When did we discuss)?” he finally says before cutting short the conversation.

Atul Aggarwal, Director and Editor-in-Chief, Hindi Khabar, Noida

When he was called over phone, Atul Aggarwal simply refused to acknowledge the fact that he had met with the senior journalist and had discussed the agenda let alone agreeing to undertake the same.

Navjeet Kumar, Marketing Officer, Amar Ujala, Una, Himachal Pradesh

Navjeet is able to recall his meeting with the senior journalist and but he is unable to recall exactly what they discussed on the agenda. When he is informed that this call is from Cobrapost, he promptly defends himself by saying: “Advertisement ko lekar baatcheet hui hai (We discussed advertisement only).”

Rajendra Kumar, Punjab Kesari, Delhi              

Rajendra is able to recall his meeting with Pushp Sharma alias Acharya Atal and even recounts some points of the agenda they had discussed. However, the moment he comes to know the real identity of his visitor and his purpose, he changes his stance to say: “Nahi jo hone layak cheej hogi wahi hoga. Maine pehle bhi kaha tha abhi bhi kaha (No, only what can be allowed will go. I told you it earlier and telling the same again).” 

Sanjay Singh Srivastav, Editor and Business Head, Swatantra Bharat, Lucknow

स्वतंत्र भारत लखनऊ के एडिटर और बिजिनेस हेड संजय सिंह श्रीवास्तव से उनकी प्रतिक्रिया जानने के लिए कोबरापोस्ट की टीम ने स्टोरी Release होने से चंद घंटे पहले फोन पर बात की। इस बातचीत में हमने उनसे बताए गए एजेंटे के बारे में दोबारा जानने की कोशिश की और ये सभी पुरानी बातों पर सहमति जताते नज़र आए। इसी दौरान कोबरापोस्ट टीम ने उन्हें बताया कि वो paid media पर एक investigative story कर रहे हैं और ये बातचीत उसी का हिस्सा है। आपको पैसों के बदले हिंदुत्व को बढ़ावा देने, विपक्षी दलों का दुष्प्रचार करने और कैश के जरिए पेमेंट लेने की बात करते कैमरे में रिकॉर्ड किया गया है। आपका इस बारे में क्या कहना है, इसपर ये सारी बातों को नकारते हुए कहने लगे कि इन्होंने ऐसा कुछ बोला ही नहीं है और हम इसको सपोर्ट नहीं करते हैं।

जितेन्द्र कुमार, डिप्टी वाइस प्रेजिडेंट(सेल्स)

इंडिया टीवी के डेप्युटी वाईस प्रेसिडेंट जितेंद्र कुमार से जब हमने स्टोरी ऑन एयर करने से काफी पहले उनका रिएक्शन लेने के लिए फोन किया तो उन्होने व्यस्त हूँ कहकर और दस मिनट बाद फोन करने की बात कह कर फोन काट दिया। उनका फोन दुबारा नहीं आया

Narendra Kumar Srivastava, Bureau Chief, UNI, Lucknow

The UNI bureau chief recalls his meeting with Pushp Sharma alias Acharya Chhatrapal Atal.  When he was told that he had agreed on the journalist’s agenda of Hindutva and character assassination of political rivals, he tells us that he is sitting somewhere else. Obviously, he was reluctant to discuss in detail all what had been transpired between him and the journalist in those meetings that Pushp had with him in his office at Lucknow. When he is told who the caller is and the call has been made to know his side of the story, Srivastava immediately changes stance to say: “Main main mujhe kya bolna hai bhai. Mujhe usmein kya bolna hai. Koi agar Hindutva ko barhava dena chahta hai uska apna agenda hai uski apni opinion hai usmein mujhe kya bolna hai. Mere se unhone vigyapan dene kee baat kee the agar wo vigyapan denge theek thak hoga toh main usko apne yahan chalaoonga hai ki nahi. Koi vyakti jab baat karta hai ki main ye karna chahta hoon main wo karna chahta hoon toh uski apni personal opinion hai toh aap yaa main kya kar sakta hoon (What can I say brother? What can I say if someone wants to promote Hindutva. It is his agenda, it his opinion. What can I say about it? He had asked me to publish some advertisement. If he would give me advertisements and if they are in order I will run them. Isn’t it so? If someone says he wants to do this, he wants to do that, it is his personal opinion. What can you and I do about it)?”

Harpreet Kaur, Sales Manager, Mumbai, Amar Ujala

कोबरापोस्ट ने अपनी खास तहकीकात ऑपरेशन 136 release करने से पहले इस स्टोरी में शामिल करीब सभी लोगों को बाकायदा फोन कर इनके reaction जानने की कोशिश की। हालांकि कई लोगों ने फोन ही नहीं उठाया तो कई ने पटलकर फोन करने की बात कहकर फोन डिस्कनेक्ट कर दिया। इसी सिलसिले में कोबरापोस्ट की टीम ने मुंबई में अमर उजाला अखबार की सेल्स मैनेजर हरप्रीत को फोन कर कहा कि आचार्य छत्रपाल की जो उनसे बात हुई थी उस बारे में आपको कोई संशय तो नहीं है, ये सवाल सुनते ही हरप्रीत ने तमाम कहानियां बताना शुरू कर दिया, हरप्रीत ने कहा कि आचार्य जी ने उन्हें अपना मुद्दा बताया जरूर था लेकिन इनके बीच कोई डील फाइनल नहीं हुई थी और ना ही वो इस पद पर है कि वो किसी डील को अपने लेवल पर फाइनल कर सके। उन्होंने अपने सीनियर अधिकारियों के ऊपर बात टालते हुए कहा कि वो इस मामले में ज्यादा involve नहीं है लिहाजा उन्हें कुछ पता नही है। जबकि हकीकत ये है कि वीडियो में हरप्रीत को हर बात का जवाब हां में कहते देखा गया है और इससे पहले भी जब पत्रकार पुष्प की इनसे फोन पर बात हुई थी तब कि इन्होंने पुष्प की हर शर्त मानने के लिए कहा था।   

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