"They told us to give them data saying maybe some of the stone-pelters (in Kashmir) are Paytm users"
By Rohini Chatterji
SCREENSHOT FROM COBRAPOST'S YOUTUBE VIDEO
In a shocking sting operation, Cobrapost, a news website known for its investigative journalism and sting operations, has allegedly found that mobile wallet company Paytm provided personal data of its users to a political party on the request from PMO during stone pelting protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
Senior Vice President of the company Ajay Shekhar is purportedly shown in a sting operation video telling Cobrapost that the PMO wanted personal data of Paytm's users to find out if some of the users were those who pelted stones during protests in Kashmir last year. However, HuffPost India could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
It must noted that government action against stone pelters in Kashmir with pellet guns had drawn severe criticism from all quarters including the United Nations. Many had been killed and further more and been blinded and maimed by pellet guns used by the armed forces.
"When the stone-pelting stopped there in J&K, I personally got a phone call from the PMO. They told us to give them data saying maybe some of the stone-pelters are Paytm users," Shekhar alledly told the under cover journalist.
#MediaOnSale : Vijay Shekhar of paytm revealed that how they provided the data of their users to a political party, on the order of PMO. pic.twitter.com/6uMtJ6f3QG
— Cobrapost (@cobrapost) May 25, 2018
Periodically, we may reveal general statistical information about Paytm & its users, such as number of visitors, number and type of goods and services purchased, etc.
We reserve the right to communicate your personal information to any third party that makes a legally-compliant request for its disclosure.
Shekhar reportedly told this to the under cover journalist when he met him and other senior officials on the pretext of being sent by the Sangathan (RSS) "to fulfill the assignment received directly from the Sangathan under a "gupt vyavastha" or secret arrangement".
During their meeting the top bosses of Paytm also allegedly spoke about their personal relations with the RSS.
He is alleged to have said during the video, "RSS is in my blood, I have attended RSS shakhas too."
It was reported by Tech Crunch last year that Paytm had 230 million users in India. A registered user has to complete their KYC with providing two government ids (Aadhaar, Passport, PAN card, Ration Card) for them to be able to use the app and make transfers to other people.
While Paytm promises to keep such data secure, Shekhar's alleged comments have revealed that users are at the risk of being targeted and their data like Aadhaar and bank account numbers being shared.
Watch the video where Shekhar is purpotedly speaking about his affiliations and also about sharing Paytm user date with the PMO:
This exposé is a part of Operation 136 that appear to show how the top bosses of prominent media houses including the Times of India, India Today, Hindustan Times, Zee News, Network 18, Star India, ABP News, Dainik Jagaran, Radio One, Red FM,Lokmat, ABN Andhra Jyothy, TV5, Dinamalar, Big FM, K News, India Voice, The New Indian Express, MVTV and Openmagazine were ready to run a campaign that had the potential to cause communal disharmony and turn public favour towards the ruling BJP.
Cobrapost has published video recordings of the big bosses of the above mentioned media houses who reportedly agreed to run the campaign.
However, according to the Cobrapost report, the Dainik Bhaskar Group got an injunction from the Delhi High Court stopping Cobrapost from publishing its investigations on the organisation.
Cobrapost's exposé raises questions about how the BJP and its parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are furthering their agenda of Hindutva politics and trying to create a polarisation in a way that can be harmful to the society and influence the upcoming elections in 2019.
Read the entire story about the sting operation by Cobraposthere.
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Rohini ChatterjiGeneral Assignment Editor, HuffPost India