New Delhi, March 26: Operation 136 – Cobrapost’s latest investigative report released on Monday, 26 March – has claimed to have found, through its sting operations, that several Indian media houses agreed to run political campaigns, defame leaders of opposition, and propagate Hindutva agenda for electoral gains, in exchange for money.
The Indian news website Cobrapost, which carried out several undercover operations through hidden camera, further alleged that media publications "agreed to publish content with a potential to polarise the electorate along communal lines."
As the operation revealed, media houses were also ready to plant stories against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Union Ministers and the ruling party’s alliance partners, framing political conspiracies and reports of in-infighting, for the right price.
The allegations were made along with a video presentation of the conversations between Cobrapost’s correspondents and the media companies at a press conference in New Delhi’s Press Club of India.
"Operation 136 derives its name from 2017 World Press Freedom Index that put India at a dismal 136 on press freedom ranking in the world."
The undercover operations were carried out by senior journalist Pushp Sharma, who said that "most of them (media houses) not only agreed to do what he asked for, but also suggested myriad ways for undertaking a well-orchestrated, overtly communal media campaign on behalf of their prospective big-ticket client."
Cobrapost revealed that Sharma met alleged representatives of more than two dozen media houses, including 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.
The website reproduced the excerpts of interactions of Sharma with different heads at each of these companies.