Seven years after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape case, senior journalist Ajit Anjum has accused the victim's friend of taking money in exchange for recounting the incident on various TV channels after the matter caught national and international attention.
Anjum claimed that that the youth and his uncle charged Rs 1 lakh from each channel to appear and speak about what happened on December 16, 2012. A sting operation was also conducted by Anjum to expose the 'friend' in September 2013 but he later decided to not air it.
Speaking on why he did not reveal the information earlier, Anjum said that the decision had to do with interference with the then-ongoing legal case against the perpetrators. As the youth was the sole witness, the sting operation would weaken the case and impact its nation-wide effect.
"The defence for the accused could also misuse it... For the media, journalistic values, editorial prestige and sensitivity are more important than TRPs," he told IANS.
The decision to finally reveal details about the youth in question was solidified after he watched the recent Netflix series "Delhi Crime" based on the gangrape incident and was "disturbed" after watching it.
On October 11, Anjum had posted a series of tweets in Hindi, hinting at some sensational disclosures about the companion of the December 16, 2012 victim.
In one tweet, he wrote: "The incident is of September 2013. A fast-track court had pronounced the death sentence on Nirbhaya gang-rape convicts. There was coverage of the Nirbhaya case on every channel. At that time I was the managing editor of 'News 24'. Nirbhaya's friend was recounting the details of the gory incident on several channels.
"I was seeing him on TV regularly. But I never saw any pain in his eyes. I also gave my reporters the responsibility of bringing him to our own studio. After some time I was told that Nirbhaya's friend, along with his uncle, goes to various studios and takes thousands of rupees for appearing.
"At first I did not believe it. Then I felt rage at him. I decided to conduct a sting showing Nirbhaya's friend demanding and taking money and broadcast it to expose him. I put myself in his place and thought, 'when the shrieks of his friend being tortured by those beasts would ring in his ears, would he take money to recount that?'
"I was confounded that when his friend, gang-raped and tortured in front of him, had departed the world, he was making 'deals' with channels to tell this disturbing story?
"My reporter talked to the youth's uncle over phone in my presence. He (the uncle) demanded Rs 1 lakh to come to the studio. After some bargaining, it was fixed at Rs 70,000. I then thought is it possible that the uncle is making money out of his nephew? I wanted the money to be given in front of the youth.
"The sum of Rs 70,000 was kept before Nirbhaya's friend. A secret camera was recording the scene. Then he was taken to the studio. After 10 minutes of conversation, he was asked if he was taking money to recount that gruesome account on various channels?
"We thought we will first record the show, and then decide what to do with it. The youth continued to deny the allegation of taking money, and then he was shown the 'sting' footage and he lost all composure and in front of cameras, and made an apology."
Anjum also told IANS that after he warned the youth that the sting footage would be telecast if he appeared on any more channels, the youth was never seen on air again.
(With inputs from IANS.)