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CBI responds to OpIndia story on tape showing potential witness tampering by Mumbai Police in TRP scam case: Here are the details

On the 23rd of October, OpIndia broke the story about a conversation where a witness, in whose home a bar-o-meter is installed, is admitting to his neighbour that he is being coerced to name Republic TV and India Today in his statement.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now responded to a story broken by OpIndia where a taped audio conversation between a person with the barometer installed in his house told his neighbour that he was being forced by the Mumbai Police to implicate Arnab Goswami led Republic TV in the TRP scam being investigated by the Mumbai Police and its Commissioner, Parambir Singh.

On the 23rd of October 2020, OpIndia had first emailed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) about an audiotape that had come in the possession of OpIndia where two people were heard talking. The individual with the barometer installed in his home, talking to his neighbour, had alleged that he was being forced to implicate Republic TV in the ongoing TRP scam investigation. OpIndia had informed CBI of this tape, and while saying that as independent journalists, it is our duty to release this information to the public, we are willing to hand over the pen-drive in which this audio was received by OpIndia.

The CBI has now responded to the evidence. The officer of the CBI investigating the TRP scam in a separate FIR filed in Uttar Pradesh has emailed OpIndia referring to the email sent on 23rd. The officer has said that he is investigating a case related to the TRP scam and has requested OpIndia to hand over the evidence for ‘further action’.

Sources have also told OpIndia that the CBI will be examining the evidence and that the investigation is currently in its preliminary stage.

OpIndia has duly informed the CBI that it will be handing over the pen-drive to the authorities.

The witness tampering audio in the TRP scam case

On the 23rd of October, OpIndia broke the story about a conversation where a witness, in whose home a bar-o-meter is installed, is admitting to his neighbour that he is being coerced to name Republic TV and India Today in his statement. 

This recorded conversation was sent through credible sources to OpIndia. The recorded conversation, which is between Person A (Person in whose home a bar-o-meter is installed) and his neighbour, makes it evident that Person A was scared for his security and his family’s safety after being allegedly coerced by the Mumbai Police.

In the tape, Person A was heard saying that 10-12 policemen had barged into his house at 3-3:30 AM in the morning and had started asking questions. Further, when Person A named another channel that had paid them to watch them, the police officers, according to Person A, told him that the case does not pertain to this channel but it is about Republic TV. He also alleges that even though the family kept telling the police officers that they do not watch Republic TV, the police added the name of Republic TV in the papers. Presumably, the papers Person A was talking about was the witness statement papers that the police maintain.

Person A in the conversation sounded incredibility scared about the police implicating him in other cases. The neighbour and Person A also talk about how this is happening because the Maharashtra government wants to implicate Arnab Goswami and Republic TV in the TRP scam.

The TRP scam and the tryst between Mumbai Police and Arnab Goswami, Republic TV

The TRP scam case has seen several twists and turns. While the Hansa Research report and the FIR filed on the basis of it named India Today, in less than 24 hours, Mumbai Police had seemingly made up its mind that Republic TV was the culprit instead and sent a notice to BARC to acquire their viewership data. In 48 hours, Parambir Singh had held a press conference naming Republic TV in the TRP scam and not even mentioning India Today. 

Later, the Hansa Research FIR, their report based on which the FIR was filed and a witness statement naming India Today surfaced, putting the Mumbai Police and India Today in a tight spot. 

After it was revealed that India Today had earlier been implicated by BARC Disciplinary Council in the manipulation of viewership, the drama had reached its Zenith, or so it seemed. 

Soon, the witnesses, after being guarded by Mumbai Police closely, told the magistrate that it was Republic TV that had paid them. With this audio emerging where a customer in whose home a bar-o-meter is installed, alleging that he is being pressured by the Mumbai Police to name Republic TV in the TRP scam, the investigation further becomes questionable. 

In the entire suspicious chronology of the case where Republic TV was being implicated in the TRP scam, not a shred of evidence, except the inexplicably changed statement by the witness, has surfaced against the channel run by Arnab Goswami in the public domain. While their CEO, CFO, journalists and Arnab Goswami himself continue to be hounded by the Maharashtra coalition government and the state machinery, including the Mumbai Police, it remains to be seen how many more twists and turns this case throws up.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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