TRP scam: SIT arrests 11th suspect, probes crucial money deal
Officers say Ashish Chaudhary, who has surrendered, is suspected to be a distributor for News Nation
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Mumbai Crime Branch on Wednesday arrested an eleventh person in connection with Television Rating Points (TRP) scam case. The accused, Ashish Chaudhary, 50, is believed to be a distributor for News Nation, one of the accused channels, officers said.
Chaudhary surrendered after his name cropped up during the interrogation of a key accused — Abhishek Kolawade. Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze said a crucial monetary transaction between him and other accused are under scrutiny.
Lakhs changed hands
According to Crime Branch officers, Chaudhary gave Kolawade approximately R5 lakh a month, per channel, which was further distributed to the households with barometers.
"We have found some digital evidence showing Chaudhary made payments to Kolawade for manipulating TRP for Republic Bharat and a music channel. We are yet to establish if Chaudhary was also paid for manipulating the TRP of News Nation," an officer said. The music channel has not been named an accused yet.
Last payment of '4 lakh
The SIT said it also found huge transactions between Kolawade's Max Media and Chaudhary's company, where his wife is the director and he manages the day-to-day functioning. The transactions, which happened over the past two years, run in lakhs and the last transaction was of about '4 lakh in cash, which Chaudhary gave to Kolawade.
"The forensic trail of money has been established, as the money exchanged a few hands before it would reach Kolawade from Chaudhary. There are both cash as well as cheque transactions between the duo," the officer said. "We are probing the main culprits who paid to Chaudhary, who then distributed to others who then paid the households to watch specific TV channels," the officer added.
Plaints from other states
Meanwhile, the SIT has said they have received over 100 written complaints from people across the country about the alleged scam. These complaints have come from Bihar, West Bengal, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka. Most complaints are about dual frequency of certain channels or about landing channels when the television is switched on.
The SIT is re-recording statements of Hansa Research and BARC as it found some contradictions.
With inputs from Vishal Singh
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