Investigative website Cobrapost’s investigation titled ‘Operation-136’ part-2 says that Ajay Shekhar Sharma, who is senior vice president at Paytm and brother of PayTM founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, allegedly claimed that the e-wallet company backed by Softbank and Alibaba had received a call from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) demanding users data, at a time when stone-pelting had reached its peak in the troubled valley of Kashmir.
To begin, Cobrapost’s investigative journalist Pushp Sharma posed as a representative of a fictitious organisation Shrimad Bhagvad Gita Prachar Samiti, and met company’s top executives — Sudhanshu Gupta, Vice President and Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Sr. Vice President — of Paytm and told them that he is meeting at the behest of the “Sangathan” to bolster the prospects of the party in power in coming elections.
Both Sudhanshu and Ajay revealed that they have close association the government and RSS, a hindu radical group in India.
In a rush to prove how close he is to both — government and the RSS — Ajay Shekhar of Paytm said in the sting video: “By the way, let me show you one more thing, in case you should obviously know our political affiliation … this is our Paytm App. Nowdays Mr. Modi is right here. He has written a book extra [sic] Exam Warriors. We are … we are actually promoting this book..”
It is to be noted however that, though the video by Cobrapost shows Ajay Shekhar Sharma purportedly claiming that the PMO asked for data of users, the video does not mention whether or not Paytm complied with the PMO’s alleged demand.
After Cobrapost released the video and transcript, PayTM, on its official Twitter handle, tweeted, saying “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.”
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.
— Paytm (@Paytm) May 25, 2018
Paytm however did not revealed the name of “agencies” in specific to whom the company has given the users’ data.
With more than 7 million registered merchants and more than 200 million wallet users across the country, a number which is increasing with ticking of the clock, Paytm is now a much diversified e-commerce company, becoming indispensable for Indian shoppers, second only to Flipkart in valuation.
Paytm began its journey in 2010 as a mobile app-based utility payments facilitator. It was founded by One97 Communications founder-promoter Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
Interestingly, in 2016 the then 6-year-old company got its biggest “lucky” break when BJP government at the stroke of midnight declared demonetization there by banning currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denominations, at immediate effect. So as a matter of fact, PayTM has been a biggest (and perhaps only) beneficiary of demonetization, which while brought India’s GDP down to 6.1%, Paytm however witnessed a 700% increase in overall traffic on the platform and 1000% growth in the value of money added to Paytm accounts.
IndianWeb2.com has sent emails to Paytm as well as its investors — Alibaba and Softbank, however we haven’t received any response from any of them, till writing of this article. In case we receive any update we’ll update this article content.
Next Course of Action
Needless to say as both the company and the government are in question, its a matter of serious question who will investigate into this matter further. In past, over dozen of media outlets including a Softbank-backed digital media startup was uncovered for peddling propaganda but since then not a iota of investigation or inquiry was proposed from government or any of its agencies.
Moreover, the gestures and nuances of talks of Ajay Shekhar Sharma, SVP of Paytm, in the sting video apparently depicts the close association with political party in power and RSS, and all this leads the conclusion that there’s is a closely knitted nexus between Indian political parties, extremist groups and so called ‘Startups’.
Earlier prime minister Modi’s own app Namo was also accused of giving users data to a company outside the country. This too was denied by govt agencies and the case was set aside without doing any investigation further.
PayTmM has denied Cobrapost allegation and the company has given a clarification on same its official blog post here.
Your Paytm Data is NEVER shared with anyone.
— Paytm (@Paytm) May 26, 2018
[Top Featured Image Source – Ajay Shekhar @Twitter]