May 9, 2021 1:57:08 am
Suspended Mumbai Police assistant inspector Sachin Waze was paid Rs 25 lakh by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), India, last year, soon after an FIR was filed in a case of alleged rigging of television viewership data, according to a letter by a senior BARC official to the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The letter, sent in March this year, claims that the money was paid to stop Waze from allegedly harassing BARC employees.
Calling it a false allegation, Waze’s lawyer Sudeep Pasbola denied that he had demanded money from BARC officials.
Waze was suspended for his alleged role in the bomb scare outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house in South Mumbai, and was later arrested by NIA in the case. He is in judicial custody at present.
A BARC spokesperson and a representative for Puneet Goenka, chairman of BARC India’s board, did not want to comment on the matter.
In his letter to ED on March 24, BARC India’s head of vigilance, Lt Col Dharamveer Mahecha, wrote that the agency was “under extreme pressure and stress of constant demands and threats made” made to BARC. He wrote that they were “hoping that after paying the money, Rs 25 lakh, we would not be harassed further. Fearing for our own safety and well being as well as fear of falsely getting implicated and arrested we were virtually compelled to arrange for the aforesaid money.”
In the four-page letter — The Indian Express has seen a copy of it — Mahecha told ED that in October 2020 Hansa Research, which measured television rating points (TRP) on behalf of BARC, had filed an FIR stating that some of its staff members had paid money to panel households that same month, potentially influencing audience behaviour. The letter mentioned that Crime Investigation Unit of Mumbai Police subsequently called BARC officials and sought further information, which was provided.
But even after that, Mahecha wrote, he and another BARC colleague were “called on a day to day basis by CIU officials to their office without any proper reasons or grounds” several times between October 7 and October 25 last year.
Mahecha wrote that when he asked Waze about “being harassed without any reason”, the then API said that “our company is not taking care of them and asked us to look into the matter, clearly indicating expectation of monetary consideration in lieu of escaping from continuous harassment”.
He maintained that Waze demanded Rs 25 lakh on October 27.
After the money was arranged, it was “handed over” to another person “as instructed by Mr Sachin Waze” on November1 at Airoli station in Navi Mumbai, the letter stated.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.