Friday 19th of April 2019

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).” 

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