The investigation into the TRP scam in which, while all evidence pointed towards India Today, the Mumbai Police has been adamant in naming Republic TV, has not been without its twists and turns. In another interesting turn, Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV made some startling revelations during his evening debate.
On air, Arnab Goswami said that he had information that the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Parambir Singh, had castigated rather rudely, one DCP who had informally told some reporters that there has been no evidence found against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami in the TRP scam.
He further said that the Mumbai Police Commissioner had made a list of the 4-5 top advertisers of Republic TV and he was planning to summon the top executives of these brands to question them in connection with the TRP scam. This claim was rather believable considering that way back on the 8th of October when Parambir Singh had named Republic TV in a press conference, even though the FIR named India Today, he had also mentioned that he would be summoning the advertisers of Republic TV and asking them if they had been duped or misled due to the Republic TV inflating its TRPs.
The first claim of Arnab Goswami, however, was rather interesting. He alleged that the police commissioner had screamed at one DCP who was involved in the TRP scam investigation because he essentially could not find any incriminating evidence against Republic TV.
OpIndia was told by a source, that the DCP who was being chastised by the Mumbai Police Commissioner was DCP Nandakumar Thakur. Interestingly, DCP of Crime Branch, Nandakumar Thakur, has now been transferred to the Traffic Police Department only 6 months after he was made the DCP of Crime Branch.
What we know about the theatre of absurd that played out, leading to the transfer of DCP Nandkumar Thakur
According to a journalist source who is a first-hand witness, on the 15th of October, DCP Nandkumar Thakur was holding an informal briefing with some journalists at the police headquarters. During the informal meeting, he allegedly told the journalists present that Republic TV was not an accused per se in the TRP scam case and that no incriminating evidence had been found against them.
Within 24 hours of that revelation, Thakur was unceremoniously shunted out from the Crime Branch. Thakur had been posted at the Crime Branch just recently and was part of the team that was investigating the charge of TRP manipulation that Parambir Singh had accused Republic with.
“He was talking to all of us in his office at the Mumbai Police Headquarters,” said a reporter who was present at Thursday, October 15th informal briefing. “It was as if he had dropped a bomb in the room. There were 8-10 reporters there and for a few seconds after he spoke there was pin-drop silence. And then there was an uproar. We asked him again. And he confirmed a second time: Republic is not an accused in the TRP scam.”
After this stunning revelation by Thakur, that was allegedly made during this press briefing, the fact that he had somewhat exonerated Republic TV in front of the reporters reached the ears of the Commissioner and then, the process of his shunting began.
The reporters were allegedly told by other senior officers that none of what was said by Mr Thakur was true or reportable. The reporter in the know also said that the Editors of their respective publications were also informed to not report this story.
What DCP Thakur said when OpIndia spoke to him about his ouster
OpIndia reached out to DCP Nandkumar Thakur and inquired about his transfer. While DCP admitted that he has been transferred from being the DCP of Crime Branch, handling high-profile cases, to being the DCP of Mumbai traffic police department, the DCP said that the information about him being shunted due to the TRP scam investigation is untrue.
When asked if he had held informal interaction with the journalists where the TRP scam case was discussed, Thakur refused to have participated in such an interaction. He even said that his transfer had nothing to do with the case and that he himself had requested for a transfer after only 6 months of being the DCP of Crime Branch.
While confirming that he had indeed been transferred to the traffic department when asked whether Republic TV is indeed an accused in the TRP scam case, unfortunately, the connection became bad and his response was inaudible.
Since then, OpIndia has been unable to reach the DCP.
How Nandkumar Thakur had come to be the DCP of Crime Branch – a battle between Shiv Sena and NCP
The saga of Mr Thakur goes right back to July. In July, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh had transferred 10 DCPs to various other departments. That order was promptly overturned by the CM of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray.
A Hindustan report says:
Four days after Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s order of transferring 10 deputy commissioner of police (DCPs) was overturned with immediate effect by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), a fresh list of transfers was issued by the home department on Friday, this time with approval from CMO.
It is being said that the fresh shuffling of nine DCPs, which includes three Indian police service (IPS) officers, was prepared keeping the CMO in the loop.
The previous staying of DCPs’ transfer order had indicated strong discontent among the ruling partners — Congress and NCP — over several decisions taken by Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, led by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The Hindustan Times report further said that, “In the fresh list of transfers which is approved by the CMO, most of the names and postings are from the same list which was cancelled by the CM earlier. Only some DCPs have been given different posting”.
It was per this order by the Home Minister (headed by NCP) that Nandkumar Thakur was moved to the crime branch in July, while the crime branch DCP Shahaji Umap has been transferred to special branch-1.
Since the Hindustan Times report says that most of the names were identical to the transfers made by Commissioner Parambir Singh, it could be safe to assume that it was per the Commissioners wishes that Thakur had been made the DCP of Crime Branch. This wish was then overturned by Uddhav Thackeray and reinstated by Home Department.
Other high-profile cases that were being handled by Thakur
Interestingly, another high profile case other than the TRP scam case that was being investigated by Nandkumar Thakur was the social media ‘fake likes’ scam. In July, DCP Nandkumar Thakur had said that while 25 celebrities had been identified in the fake likes scandal, the police will not be disclosing their names since it might hamper their investigation.
It is pertinent to mention here that singer Badshah was also interrogated by Nandkumar and it was reported in the media that he had said that Badshah had confessed. “The singer confessed that he wanted to set a world record for the most number of views in 24 hours on YouTube. That is why he paid Rs 72 lakhs to this company”, Nandkumar had said.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had taken a personal interest in the case and said that the Mumbai police will investigate the matter. Arrests in the case were also made.
The saga of the fake TRP scam and the curious case of Republic TV being implicated by Mumbai Police, while the complaint and FIR mentioned India Today
The TRP scam case investigation has been nothing short of a Bollywood thriller, ironically. 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 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.
In the entire suspicious chronology of the case where Republic TV was being implicated, 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.