The Kerala Police on Friday booked the chief executive and eight other employees of the TV channel that had carried out a “sting operation” against former Kerala Transport Minister AK Saseendran, which had led to his resignation. This comes a day after Mangalam Television’s Chief Executive Officer Ajith Kumar issued an apology and admitted that one of their female journalists had voluntarily carried out the operation.
In its launch bulletin on March 26, the channel had aired an audio clip in which a male voice, which it claimed was Saseendran’s, is heard seeking sexual favours from the woman. Kumar said it was a staged sting operation conducted by eight senior journalists of the channel.
“A reporter had taken up the responsibility voluntarily...We admit that it was wrong on our part to not have released the entire audio,” the CEO said, according to The News Minute. Kumar apologised for any inconvenience caused to other women journalists.
Questions were raised about the authenticity of the clip and the channel’s decision to air only the parts in which the man can be heard, without explaining why the woman’s voice had been edited out. Although the channel had claimed that a woman had approached them with a complaint, no one had filed a police report against Saseendran.
The apology came after a number of journalists criticised the purported exposé. They said the channel had sensationalised and misrepresented the story. The state government had also announced its decision to inquire into the matter. Director General of Police Loknath Behra had formed an investigation team of six officers to examine the audio clip and the allegations.
Although the Elathoor MLA had resigned following the allegations of sexual harassment, he had told Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that there was something “unnatural” about the news report.