Operation 136: Part 1

Operation 136: Part 1

cobrapost |
March 26, 2018

Cobrapost investigation exposes many Indian media houses willing to peddle Hindutva, which could lead to communal polarization for electoral gains, and to defame political rivals as part of a malicious media campaign, all for money

New Delhi: “Any covert or overt attempt to misuse Social Media including Facebook to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will neither be tolerated, nor be permitted,” thus spoke Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Law and Justice and Information and Technology, in his tweet on March 21, 2102, at 1:34 India time when a huge breach of Facebook data was reported a day earlier.

Well, this is exactly what Operation 136 establishes, for the first time in the history of Independent India and the world at large: Yes, Indian media houses do have the propensity to “influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means.”  Read More>>

India TV

Ranked among top 5 TV news channels by the Broadcast Audience Research Council week 9 ratings for 2018, India TV is watched by millions of Indians. Before Rajat Sharma launched India TV in May 2004, he had already earned a name for his talk shows “Aap Ki Adalat” on Zee TV and “Janata Ki Adalat” on Star TV. Known for his journalistic candour and uprightness while talking celebrities into making confessions on his talk shows, he had promised his news channel would become Aapki Awaz, the Voice of the Public. Read More>>

Dainik Jagran

Launched in 1942 in Jhansi during the freedom struggle, Dainik Jagran is one of the most read Hindi dailies in the country. With a circulation of 3,632,383, it is published simultaneously from cities of Rewa, Bhopal, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Meerut, Agra, Aligarh,  Bareilly and Delhi, with separate editions coming out from Uttarakhand, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal. According to the World Association of Newspapers, Dainik Jagran is one of the newspapers in the world with maximum readership. Over the years, the paper has grown into a multi-faceted group. Read More>>

Hindi Khabar: 

Hindi Khabar is hardly a year old 24 ´ 7 TV news channel, primarily catering to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bundelkhand. Editor Atul Agrawwal is an old media hand and knows rules of his trade. But when Pushp Sharma met him at his Noida office, Aggarwal came across a pro-Hindu whose aim is to serve the cause of his faith. As Sharma begins to brief Aggarwal on his agenda, Aggarwal reveals his loyalties: “Jab main IBN7 mein tha wahan par poora leftist aur Congressi manasikta ke log the … Toh wahan par aap bhagwa ke paksh mein kuchh bolte the anchoring nahi milti thi. Read More>>


SAB TV does not need any introduction. The network has been entertaining millions of Indian TV viewers with its rib-ticking comedies like “Dekh Bhai Dekh” and “Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma” for the past three decades since it came into being in 1985. Pushp Sharma called on the senior functionaries of the network if they could help him fulfill his agenda using the genre comedy that is their forte. Surprisingly, he found them ready for the job. Here, Sharma first met Parthasarathi Kuila, who is working as Associate Vice President (Sales). Read More>>

DNA (Daily News and Analysis)

Launched in 2005 and published simultaneously from MumbaiAhmedabadPuneJaipurBangalore and Indore, DNA is second most-read English newspaper in Mumbai. A joint venture of Zee and Dainik Bhaskar groups, the newspaper has a circulation of 456,000 in Mumbai. No mean a feat, it shows its popularity among Mubaikars, especially in an age where space for news in print is shrinking by the day. DNA in a matter of a decade or so may have earned for itself a reputation as a newspaper. Pushp Sharma decided to check if the DNA marketing officials cared so much as to defend this reputation and say no to his proposition. Read Moree>>

Amar Ujala

Anuj Tyagi, Deputy GM (Media Solutions), Noida; Navjeet Kumar, Marketing Officer, Una, Himachal Pradesh; Mohit Sharma, Asociate Vice President (Marketing), Bharpur Singh, GM (Media Solutions) and Kanwaljit Singh, Sr. Marketing Manager (Media Solutions), Chandigarh; Sanjeev Rastogi, Dy Manager (Media Solutions), Meerut; Harpreet Kaur, Sales Manager, Mumbai; Himanshu Gautam, Business Head and Ashish Vimal Garg, Sr. Manager, amarujala.com, Delhi. Read Moree>>


With about 1000 subscribers including newspapers, radio and television networks, web sites, government offices and private and public sector corporations across India and the world, United News of India (UNI) is undoubtedly one of the largest news agencies. UNI has news bureaus in all state capitals and major cities in the country. Sharma got a red-carpet welcome, literally, in one such bureau of the agency at Lucknow, where he met Narender Kumar Srivastva. Read Moree>>

9X Tashan

9X Tashan is one of the most popular Punjabi music channels. Part of 9X Media, founded by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in 2007 and now acquired by Zee TV in 2017, is India’s largest music broadcaster operating six music TV channels and www.spotboye.com, a Bollywood news portal. With a weekly viewership of about 1.50 crore, 9X Tashan is undoubtedly a leader on its own right, and with this kind of reach, one can fathom the impact the music channel may have on its viewers if its content could be manipulated to promote a particular ideology. Read Moree>>

Samachar Plus

In a very short period of time after it was launched in mid-2012, Samachar Plus has earned itself the sobriquet of the No. 1 regional news channel across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. With a catchy tag line Khabar wahi jo humne kahi (What we tell is news), Samachar Plus is owned and run by Umesh Kumar, a property developer-turned-journalist, who came to limelight after he did a sting on the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat in 2016, few months before the state was due for assembly elections. Umesh Kumar also runs News Network of India (NNI), a news agency. Read Moree>>

HNN 24×7

Amit Sharma, founder and Chief Executive Officer, HNN 24×7, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
A new kid on the block, HNN 24×7 is Dehradun-based TV news channel. It was founded by Amit Sharma in 2016. As Sharma warms up to the reporter’s preposition, he is explained how his news channel is supposed to work according to his agenda. First, the channel would telecast soft Hindutva programmes released by Shrimad Bhagwat Prachar Samiti which will be followed up by direct promotion of the BJP. Read Moree>>

Punjab Kesari

Making a beginning with a print run of just 3500 copies in 1965, Punjab Kesari has come a long way, now selling 743,000 copies a day. With simultaneous editions published from Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Palampur, Panipat, Hissar, Jammu, Bathinda, Rohtak and Shimla, the Hindi daily is undoubdetly one of the most influential vernacular paper of this region. It may have a daunting reputation, but when Pushp Sharma met two of its officials it did not take much effort for him to discover they were equally eager to secure business. Read Moree>>

Swatantra Bharat

Swatantra Bharat was started in 1947, on the day India got independence, and was christened likewise to signify its birth. With a claimed readership of 8 lakh, the newspaper is published simultaneously from Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur, with special editions for Allahabad, Faizabad, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Shahjahanpur and a dak edition for the city of Kanpur and adjoining areas such as Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh. Given its reach, the vernacular definitely dominates the news business in this large part of Hindi heartleand. Read Moree>>


Founded in 2013 by five alumni of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, ScoopWhoop is a digital media and news organization based in Delhi, which publishes India-specific stories. The start-up received an investment of Rs. 10 crore a year later from Bharti Softbank, a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Japan’s SoftBank. It is reported that the site has been consistently getting over 3 million shares on social media every month. Read Moree>>


Founded two decades back in 1996 by Ajit Balakrishnan, Rediff.com is a news, information, entertainment and shopping web portal. Headquartered in Mumbai, Rediff.com has offices also in Bangalore, New Delhi and New York City. It is ranked 24 Indian web portal in terms of traffic, which shows its popularity among netizens who also visit this portal for its news content.  Given the fact that more and more netizens are turning to such digital platforms to brows news, Sharma approached its Mumbai headquarters to see if his proposition is accepted by its officials. Read Moree>>

India Watch

Although it is a digital news platform, sort of a new kid on the block, the reach of this YouTube channel cannot be underestimated given the fact that the number of users of this digital medium is growing by leaps and bounds every year, as mobile telephony with Internet becomes more and more accessible to average Indians. Read Moree>>

Aj (Hindi Daily)

One of the most prominent Hindi news dailies, Aj does not need any introduction. The paper was started by freedom fighter Shiv Prasad Gupta in Varanasi in 1920. With a claimed circulation of 149,339, the newspaper has grown into a multi-edition brand published simultaneously from 12 cities across four states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. Once very popular among readers for both journalistic candour and literary flavour, the daily, however, is no longer a citadel of those ideals that its founder started it with almost 100 years ago, as a look at the interview that Sharma had with Harinder Singh Sahni, Lucknow branch head of the paper, reveals. Read Moree>>

Sadhna Prime News

As soon as the reporter tells Bhatt about his agenda, Bhatt replies: “Our business is Hindutva, exactly.” The bonhomie between Bhatt and his prospective client thus sets in at the outset.

After the reporter apprises him of his campaign, Bhatt informs us of his links with the BJP government and the RSS: “Hum log toh exclusive bhi karte rahte hain aur humare apne jo resources hain usmein kuch log Sangh key ya sarakar ke wo exclusively humein dete hain cheejon ko (We are do exclusive programmes and some of our resources and people are associated with the Sangh or the government who give us such stuff exclusively).” Read Moree>>

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