Indian digital wallet company Paytm came under widespread condemnation on Friday after Cobrapost’s Operation 136 Part 2 caught at least two of its top executives admit on tape that they had shared users’ data with a political party at the order of the PMO.
In the expose, Paytm’s executives are heard boasting about their contacts with top RSS leaders adding how the company has been giving ads in the official magazine of the Sangh, Panchjanya.
Paytm’s Ajay Shekhar Sharma tells the undercover journalist that the Panchjanya Editor Prafull Kelkar is a good friend, before going on to reveal, “Arre meri dosti toh unse dosti hai matlab aap agar Panchjanya ko uthayenge na toh usmein Paytm ke ad dikhenge aapko aap dekhna kabhi jaake aapko dikh jayega … wo unke kehne se kare hain humne (Oh, we are really very good friends. I mean if you pick up any issue of Panchjanya, you will find Paytm ads there through and through … we have done all those things upon his word).” But he again insists he will speak to his friends in RSS and particularly Kelkar before undertaking the assignment. Why the RSS should approach them adopting such a circuitous route, he wonders aloud, when they could have got it done by directly communicating with him. Dropping again some more names of the RSS and BJP ministers, he wonders: “Main thoda confidence … confidence kya meri samajh nahi aa raha ki humse kyon nahi kah rahe wo (I am talking of confidence … confidence. I am unable to understand why they are not asking us directly to do this).” Losing his patience over his insistence on “no confidence”, the journalist cuts him short by telling him to upload the videos of his Guruji on their app. “Nahi nahi wo sab hum kar denge agar RSS kahega kyonki RSS toh humare blood mein hai (No, no. We will do all that provided the RSS asks us to do. RSS is in our blood),” assures Ajay Shekhar at long last but with a rider.
He goes on to explain why: “Main poochhoonga karana hai toh fir unko bata kar karenge hum bhi to apne number banayein seedhi see baat hai jab itna kar chuke hain toh karna kya hai (I will do it after telling them. After all we also would like to make our numbers with them. It is as simple as that. When we have done all those things for them, then why not this).” What Ajay Sharma, who says he is close to RSS from childhood, is telling us makes business sense.
You scratch our back, as they say, I will scratch yours!
In a rush to prove how close they are both to the government and to the RSS, Ajay Shekhar makes the ultimate disclosure: “Jab J&K mein band huye the na pathar … toh humari personally PMO se phone aya tha kaha gaya tha ki data de do ho sakta hai ki Paytm user hon (When the stone-pelting stopped there in J&K, I personally got a phone call from the PMO. They told us to give them data saying maybe some of the stone-pelters are Paytm users. Do you understand)?” Hope, Paytm users are listening to what Ajay Shekhar is confessing on camera!
Coming back to dropping names of the top BJP and RSS leadership, Ajay Shekhar makes another revelation. Referring, apparently, to Kailash Vijayavargiya, BJP National General Secretary, Ajay Shekhar says: “Dekho ye jo Kailashji hain ye mere bahut acche dost hain bahut acche dost hain. Matlab inhone humare bahut kaam kiye hain. Mera ek dost Bengal mein IPS hai, inke liye bahut kaam kar raha hai wo iss time. Ye Shivrajji hain inse toh matlab ye jaante hain Ajay Shekhar (You see, there is Kailashji who is a very good friend. I mean he has done us a lot of favours. I have an IPS friend in Bengal. He is also doing a lot of work for them at this time. Then there is Shivraj ji, with him … you know, all these leaders know Ajay Shekhar personally).”
The revelation evoked angry reactions as users began to uninstall the Paytm app while many demanded strictest action against the company for the breach of personal data.
If @Paytm provided data on users to a political party as @cobrapost sting alleges, its gross illegality and they must be taken to court
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) May 25, 2018
Just withdrawn my @Paytm balance and deleted the app. Won’t use it again, ever. Sorry @vijayshekhar #cobrapost
— Arvind Jha (@jalajboy) May 25, 2018
How to delete your @PayTM account#DeletePayTM #UninstallPaytm
1. Go to 24×7 help section
2. Select “My Account”
3. Click on unable to access my account – Mobile phone lost
4. Write in the message window “Phone lost, unauthorized activity likely, block my account” pic.twitter.com/muT7ekMd8g
— Ajay (@SoinAjay) May 25, 2018
It takes balls to say your user data is safe when your Sr Vice President and founder’s brother is caught on camera admitting to handing over data to the PMO. Slow clap for PayTM.
— ᴍᴀᴅʜᴜ ᴍᴇɴᴏɴ (@madmanweb) May 25, 2018
PM Narendra Modi blushing after Founder & CEO of PayTM Vijay Shekhar Sharma showing him the perosnal Data of 20 Crore Indian he has collected for 2019 LS Election.(2018) pic.twitter.com/sfRCzU6hCq
— History of India (@RealHistoryPic) May 25, 2018
Dear People ,
Don’t Uninstall Paytm that leaked your Data .
Unelect the govt that allowed it to happen.
Unelect the party that asked for your data.
Because your Data is your Data , none of their Data.#MediaOnSale #CobraPost
— Roshan Rai (@RoshanKrRai) May 25, 2018
An alarmed Paytm soon released a statement claiming that it had never shared users’ data with anyone adding that it will only do so with the law enforcing agencies. Its statement said, “There is absolutely NO TRUTH in the sensational headlines of a video doing rounds on social media. Our users’ data is 100% secure and has never been shared with anyone except law enforcement agencies on request. Thank you for your continued support.”
Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi too slammed the company reminding its soaring success post demonetisation announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gandhi posted, Here is proof that we were absolutely correct about demonetisation. PayTM= PayToPM.”
Here is proof that we were absolutely correct about demonetisation.
PayTM= PayToPM pic.twitter.com/i6jk8m1SGc
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 25, 2018
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too shared his old tweet posted immediately after the note ban announcement. In his old tweet he had asked, “Paytm experiences phenomenal growth after demonetisation. Modi ji appears in Paytm’s ad. Modi ji should tell the nation about his link with Paytm.