The Shivraj Chauhan government is doing its best to ensure that the genie remains locked in a bottle, tightening its lid in the 78 crore scam, amid the electoral turmoil in Madhya Pradesh.
The five top IAS officers of the state were accused of being in the position of Public Relations Officer (DPR) of the State Directorate between 2012 and 2015 to promote about 235 fake and illegal websites from the state exchequer to promote government policies. An organized scam was done by distributing Rs.
The government advertises to news websites, this means that news websites publish advertisements of government policies and the website gets money in lieu of that depends on the scale and size of the website. However, upon searching, it was found that many of these websites are non-existent or illegal. The beneficiaries of this scam are many self-proclaimed journalists who operate these fake websites. These “journalists” bring fake traffic to their websites so that their websites look genuine and they can be eligible to receive government money.
It is not difficult to understand that the Chauhan government has put everything at stake to suppress this scam. Not only this, one of the IAS officers against whom complaints have been made, is working as Chief Secretary of Chauhan.
The first news of this scam came two years ago. However, no FIR has been filed in this case and the original complainants have been troubled by repeated rounds of the court and the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of MP Police. In order to avoid this issue in the elections, the ongoing investigation against those journalists who were involved in this fraud was also put on hold. Actually, instead of investigating, the police in its report sent to the district court has said that the court has no power to take decision in this case.
The Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of MP Police, Bhopal, first received a complaint in this case in January 2016. The complainant was Vinay David, a local resident. The complaint included five IAS officers: SK Mishra (current Principal Secretary to Chief Minister and former Commissioner of DPR), Mangla Mishra (Additional Director of DPR), Lajpat Ahuja (former Director of DPR), Anupam Rajan (Former Commissioner of DPR) and Anil Mathur (former director of DPR) is mentioned. The complaint said that the officers should be punished under Section 420 (cheating) and Section 467 (forgery of government property).
However, when the EOW did not take cognizance of David’s complaint, he filed a complaint in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate of the District Court of Bhopal in September 2016. On several occasions over the next two years, the court asked the EOW to investigate the complaint, but not a single report on the investigation was presented by EOW officials.
According to a document available with Newslaundry, the police had submitted the answers in the court. A letter dated July 16, 2018 stated that the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate is not competent to give the charge to the police to conduct an inquiry against the IAS officers who worked in the DPR. The special court can only take cognizance of this matter.
In a letter written by Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajesh Guru, the court was asked to rescind its order dated March 5, 2018, directing the police to investigate and report to the police.
Earlier on 28 February 2017, the then EOW Superintendent of Police Shashikant Shukla wrote a letter to the court stating that a complaint had been received from David, that complaint was sent to the EOW headquarters. Police told the court on October 10, 2016, that in a letter written in February 2017, it was stated that after sending the complaint to headquarters, two letters were written to the DPR’s chief secretary on March 15, 2016 and September 28, 2016, asking him Was asked to provide a factual report.
Shukla’s letter further explained (loosely translated): “However, the EOW office was not aware of the further proceedings of the court of November 17, 2016, December 8, 2016, January 2, 2017 and February 9, 2017 because by the applicant The police was not made a party in this case, due to which we also could not present our side in the court. However, the police is always ready to follow the orders of the court. ”
David’s lawyer Yawar Khan told Newslaundry that the case had been going on for two years. “The court rejected the application of the police, asking for the cancellation of the complaint lodged by David … Earlier, the police took two months at regular intervals to submit the report, but The report was never submitted. Recently, on October 3, 2018, the court asked the police to submit a final investigation report so that an FIR (FIR) can be lodged in the case. But the police did nothing It is crying because elections have come, and any action in this regard can harm the government, ”Yawar Khan told.
According to Khan, the disbursement of money to fake sites for government propaganda happened during the tenure of IAS officers, and is still going on. “Many of these websites were not even present, but even then they were given advertisements ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh each month. In 2016, the DPR came up with a new rule that advertisements would be given only to websites that had certain Hits, so that fake websites can be reduced.
Some fake journalists used software to inflict hits on their website and managed to get government advertisements, ”says Khan.
Newslaundry also spoke to complainant Vinay David in this case. David does not think that this case will be able to see the face of the court in the coming time. Says David, “The police made an argument that the district court is not competent enough to take cognizance of the case. The special court will not accept the case as it requires permission from the concerned department of officers.” He added, “I don’t think it will ever end, these people have a big network.”
When Newslaundry contacted the Chief Minister’s Chief Secretary SK Mishra, he said, “These are all nonsense, and people make such allegations on the occasion of elections”.
Newslaundry tried to contact Mangala Mishra, Anupam Rajan and Anil Mathur but they were not available for comment.
Newslaundry spoke to V Madhu Kumar, Additional Director General of EOW. He said, “I am not aware of this matter. I will have to talk to my officials about this.”
Fake website and their ‘hits’
In March 2016, the DPR came out with new rules for advertising on news websites to make it easier to eliminate fake websites. According to the new rules, news websites seeking advertisements with the same URL and name should be operated online for a period of at least one year. According to their Google Analytics report, there should be at least 2,000 users per month.
Based on the number of monthly users, websites will be advertised in four categories:
1- Websites with more than 25,000 monthly users will get ads worth Rs 50,000 per month.
2- Websites with 10,000-25,000 monthly users will get an advertisement of Rs 40,000 per month.
3- Websites with 5,000-10,000 monthly users will get ads worth Rs 10,000-25,000.
4- Websites with 2,000-5,000 monthly users will get ads worth Rs 5,000-15,000.
The new guidelines state that news websites that already receive ads must reach at least 2,000 monthly users and hit hits within the next three months to be eligible for advertisements. Websites meeting all the criteria will receive advertisements of Rs 25,000 with the permission of the DPR Commissioner, and advertisements worth more than this will be placed after the permission of the state government.
It was also said that DPR had the right to verify the number of monthly users using reliable web analytics tools. However, the new guidelines were not properly monitored. Some websites manipulated their users by generating fake traffic.
A highly placed IPS officer told Newslaundry on the condition of anonymity that fake boosting was done by people to increase traffic on news websites to get government advertisements. An inquiry related to this was completed within two months, but no FIR (FIR) has been filed yet. A source doing the investigation said that 200 websites were found guilty for bringing fake traffic for this purpose. Since elections are coming up in Madhya Pradesh, there are no “orders” for filing FIRs.
Newslaundry asked the officer investigating the case about this. Lokpal Bhadoria, Inspector of Police of Cybercrime Cell, initially said, “We are not allowed to register an FIR due to elections in the state.” Upon further questioning, he changed his statement and said, “I completed the investigation six to seven months in advance and no one has stopped us from filing an FIR (FIR). Don’t worry, I will arrest them soon I will
Bhadauria said that these website operators have increased fake traffic with the help of software available in the market. They are used to increase hits. This enabled them to get advertisements worth Rs 50,000. Some operated several websites and earned up to 5 lakh rupees in a month.
After a little further conversation, Bhadoria told, “Why are you showing so much interest in this matter? There is no big bureaucrat involved in it. Please stop bothering me. I don’t know why everyone is showing interest in this matter.” is.”
Newslaundry spoke to Madhya Pradesh State Cyber Crime Cell, Special Director General of Police Aruna Mohan Rao. Rao said, “The inquiry is in the final stage. Legal advice is also being taken. Appropriate action will be taken later.” This statement is completely different from Bhadoria’s statement, who said that the inquiry was completed six months ago.
Vinod Mishra, a resident of Bhopal, is a party in the complaint of Vinay David in this case. Mishra said that some progress in this matter is clearly visible from the government. “There is a possibility that some high IAS officers will be booked, but currently, the government has said that no one will talk to anyone, or give any information. Some government officials told us that by giving information about the case The investigation may be affected. He said that it could also become an electoral issue as the Model Code of Conduct is in force. There are many other things related to the matter that can cause tension at this time Are combed. ”
Interviewed someone who is a “website builder”. He was told that websites not running for more than a year can be updated again within three hours. These websites will show all the news updates throughout the year and fake records of the number of people who see them every day. “Likes, comments, visitors, subscriptions, everything can be tampered with,” he explained. “The DPR knows everything about it but they still have not taken appropriate action.”
Mishra says that the DPR blacklisted 60 websites after David complained, but “many such websites are still running and everyone knows about them.”
Whistleblower Anand Rai of Vyapam scam says, “Chief Minister’s Chief Secretary SK Mishra is the” main player “behind the scam. He was the one who distributed the money to the news websites. Apart from this, he secretly distributed funds to the media as well. The media of Madhya Pradesh is under their control, which is why important issues are not published in print, electronic or online media. Journalists are on the chief minister’s salary here. ”
Rai said, “The appointment of SK Mishra is doubtful. He was placed on contractual basis after retirement. Have you ever heard that an IAS officer has been appointed on contract? ”