The BARC chats: Published in full, Mumbai Police’s WhatsApp annexures in TRP scam case

On 11 January, the Mumbai Police filed a supplementary chargesheet in the TRP scam case, which includes conversations between Partho Dasgupta, the former CEO of BARC, and Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV.
16 January, 2021

On 11 January, the Mumbai Police filed a supplementary chargesheet in a case investigating the alleged manipulation of television rating points by several media organisations, most notable among which was Republic TV. Four days later, two volumes of the TRP-scam chargesheet—which runs into 3,400 pages—were leaked to the press. These documents contain WhatsApp conversations between Partho Dasputa, the former CEO of BARC, and several of his colleagues, and also with the co-founder, editor-in-chief and anchor of Republic, Arnab Goswami. The Caravan is publishing two documents in its possession—Volumes VII and VIII of the supplementary chargesheet—in their entirety, after confirming its authenticity with the Mumbai Police.

The two volumes contain conversations between Dasgupta and Romil Ramgaria, who served as BARC’s chief operating officer from 2014 to 2020; Mubin Khan, the executive vice president of BARC; Venkat Sujit Samrat Ch, a vice president at BARC; as well as Atreyee Roy and Rushabh Rajesh Mehta, two other employees of the organisation. The annexures also include conversations with Goswami running into over a hundred pages, and with Vikas Khanchandani, the  CEO of Republic Media Network. These conversations cover a wide variety of topics, including several mentions of the prime miniser’s office, the union home minister, Amit Shah, and the India TV editor-in-chief, Rajat Sharma.

The Mumbai Police had registered a first-information report in the case in October 2020, following a complaint by Nitin Kashinath Deokar, a deputy general manager with Hansa Research Group Private Limited, a research group affiliated with BARC. Deokar stated in his complaint that he had come to learn of the alleged TRP manipulation during an audit. While the initial FIR did not name Republic TV, the Mumbai Police had announced during its investigation that it had proof of illegal activities by the media organisation, and two Marathi channels, Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi.

In end November, the police filed a chargesheet in the case, accusing 12 individuals, which included Republic TV employees, and naming others such as Goswami and S Sundaram, the chief financial officer of Republic TV. The following month, the Mumbai Police conducted several arrests in the case, including Ramgaria and Dasgupta, who were the fourteenth and fifteenth persons to be taken into custody in the case.