Madhya Pradesh State Coffers Ransacked by Fake Websites – Another Incident of Breached Freedom of Press

The M.P State government has been allocating funds to some 234 fake websites. The govt. strategy of advertising was designated to obligated journalists than other institutions. In this political inferno, the journalists created several fake websites in the name of their family members to acquire funds.

Which are these fake websites?

A recent investigation revealed that nearly 14 crore rupees stands allotted to some 234 dummy websites. Congress MLA Bala Bachchan raised this topic in the assembly.

Explicitly, some 18-26 websites operated by the relatives of the journalists, linked with several newspapers, gained more than a million advertisements. The list includes failaan.com, deshbhakti.com, rashtrawad.com and prakalp.org. Moreover, most of these websites contain similar content.

In fact, India TV’s Journalist Anurag Upadhyay’s wife operates Dakhal.net. The website received 19.7 lakh government advertisements in last four years.

The Operators of these Fake Websites

Prakash Bhatnagar, the editor of ‘LN Star’ a hindi weekly keeps an antithetical view that the Madhya Pradesh government shares a very warm connection with the journalists. That is, because his wife Poonam Bhatnagar is the operator of webkhabar.com. Notably, Government commercials worth 11.25 lakh rupees stood allotted to this website during the span of 2012-15. However, the operators of mppost.com, bharatseva.com and socialmediamp.com affirm that all the commercials posted by them adhere to the government norms.

Girish Sharma, the local editor of ‘Pioneer’, manifested this act of deception to be unethical but not felonious. Perhaps, because his wife, Mini Sharma, administers the website of mpnewsonline.com. Notably, this website received government advertisements worth 17 lakh rupees. Additionally, this website did not include any contact information.

The spouses of many prominent columnists are alleged to be the operators of much of these websites. The list includes burningnews.org operated by Suman Sharma, wife of Neetendra Sharma editor of ‘English Daily Press’. Further, Bawandar.com, operated by Sadhna Singh, wife of Raghavendra Singh journalist of ‘New India’ Hindi newspaper. Khabarsabki.com, also operated by the wife of Ravindra Kailasia, journalist of ‘New World’ newspaper. He stated that he did not receive any money from the government. Although advertisements worth 8.5 lakhs stand released for the website. Another site, khabarmail.com, claims that they did not post any advertisements. However, this turned out to be a false claim.

The state government has spent about 14 crore rupees on these dummy websites. Ashwani Rai, who works with the BJP, allegedly runs a website which received advertisements worth 21.70 lakh, though she turned down these attestations.

Freedom of press, thus, stands terrorized when the people connected with the ruling BJP Government receive these advertisements rather than the Media personnel.

Traffic Hoaxing in the Websites

Apparently, the websites used some software to foster hits and to abut to the framework set up by the state government. Explicitly, self manifested journalists created fake traffic using a single IP address. The higher the traffic the more are the number of advertisements received.

Opposition’s Take

State Congress MLA Bala Bachchan criticized the government on providing the advertisements to those personnel who are faithful to the BJP. The Congress further stated that the advertisements should be emancipated to unprejudiced media personnel.

Freedom of Press is a segment of Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution. Explicitly, it guarantees freedom of speech and expression to every citizen of India. Meanwhile, the ball game in Madhya Pradesh threatens this very basic fragment of the constitution. Of course, the right of every citizen to have an informed opinion is indispensable. Freedom of Press is fundamental for a democracy to function smoothly. However, freedom of press or the fourth pillar of democracy is crumbling as per the current state of affairs.