Days after its 'expose' on former Transport Minister Saseendran involving a sexually explicit conversation, Mangalam television has finally admitted that the minister was the target of a 'sting operation'. Though the channel had claimed for days that a woman (a house wife) had approached them with a complaint, the channel changed stand after massive criticism, especially from other journalists.
The channel's CEO Ajith Kumar appeared on TV and apologised for any inconvenience caused to other women journalists. Importantly, he mentioned that the sting had been conducted by a woman reporter in their organisation. "A reporter had taken up the responsibility voluntarily. The entire operation involved 8 senior journalists. We admit that it was wrong on our part to not have released the entire audio," Ajith Kumar said.The audio released by the channel had a male voice allegedly of the minister. The channel had insisted that he had asked sexual favours from a woman who had approached him with a complaint.
Though the minister had resigned almost immediately, many journalists had questioned the veracity of the story. Journalists from Kerala had asked if it had been a genuine complaint or a 'honey trap.' The channel has not revealed whether it was a honey trap, or if the reporter had approached the minister for other purposes.
Interestingly, the channel's apology came soon after the state government decided to hand over the enquiry to a team of six police officials.
DGP Loknath Behra formed an investigation team that will be lead by Biju Mon, DySP of HiTech cell. IG Dinendra Kashyap will supervise the probe which will also include Kottayam SP N Ramachandran, Palakkad SP Pratheesh, Crime branch DySp Shanavas and SI Sudhakumari.
Read the crux of Ajith Kumar's statement:
"Many cultural leaders made their comments on this issue, we respect them, and their criticism. There was criticism from social media, from other media houses and from journalists unions. Women journalists especially, we apologise to them.
This was a sting operation that is part of journalism. And since it was a sting, we had decided earlier itself not to reveal the person behind the sting.
Eight senior editorial members were part of the investigation team. Nobody was forced to take up the job as it is being alleged by our rivals. A female journalist had who taken up the job voluntarily.
We were to reveal these truths before the judicial probe. We promise that we will not repeat these mistakes. We will have an editorial system to prevent such mistakes, and we request everyone not to stand against the channel for this 'single' mistake."