NEW DELHI / AMN
Renowned editors and journalists on Friday expressed their concerns over attempt to muzzle media, particularly the recent CBI raids on NDTV. While emphasizing that nobody is above the law, they all anticipated the dangers of direct or indirect attempts to intimidate the media. They were speaking at journos gathering at the Press Club of India on Friday .
Renowned economist, journalist, author and politician Arun Shourie also advocated for the importance of free press and vehemently condemned the blatant “attack” on NDTV in the garb of ‘bank fraud”.Describing Mr Prannoy Roy as the man who has shielded the “Press freedom in India” in recent decades , he said, ‘the government must realise that those who try to put their hands on media have got their hands burned therefore they must withdraw it. “Totalitarian” or ‘total domination’ to use existing media to defame the rest of the media must not be taken lying down.’ Charging the Narendra Modi government with using the media to spread lies , he said, Hiren Joshi is the “Media watchman” of his dispensation but Modi should realise that media is watching him watch us. He urged non-cooperation and boycott to put the government in its place.
Senior Journalist H K Dua said,”Prannoy Roy is the man of the moment. This is a cowardly attack which is just more than meets the eye. It transmits the message that if you dont fall in line you will meet the NDTV fate. This is a dispute between a bank and a client and you cant go on and harass one of the most prestigious media channel owners in the guise of CBI raids.Vijay Mallaya and Lalit Modi can be allowed to escape but make MY Roy and his wife the scapegoats.’ ‘It is like sowing the seeds of dissent which is leading to anger and and then leading to other things. A wake up call for the media which has to remain vigilant if it has to remian in the business. There are of course other ways to settle cases but this “inaudacious” act has made the press pay the price,’ he remarked.
Eminent journalist Shekhar Gupta who works with Business Standard exhorted everyone to not to be distracted by the merits of the case. In his address, he said,” Somewhere social media got disoriented and we got influenced by it. We are good people. Dont be intimidated and be considerate. This case will surely settle in favour of the Roys.’ Raj Chengappa , editor with India Today group also described the raids as serious threat to the freedom of the media and stated such illegal actions expose the anti-free press stand of the the Centre.’ Another famous scribe Kuldeep Nayyar, said, press freedom is vital for a country to run freely and democratically.Journalists should be awakened. Press is the foundation of democracy. Settling of the case in favour of Roys will also settle the dust on the huge debate on press freedom in the country that the happenings of the past few days have triggered.’ Famous Indian jurist Fali Sam Nariman swearing by the honesty and integrity of Mr Prannoy Roy said,” the manner and circumstances in which the raids have been conducted give reasons to believe that the raids conducted on NDTV are unjustified. Roys have assured that they will answer each and every statement of the CBI. Blessings of a free press are worthwhile and we must focus on that.’
Describing the case against NDTV as “absolutely false and concocted,” NDTV’s Prannoy Roy said, “I commit we will fight every one of these false charges openly and transparently….all we ask is that this inquiry be held in a time-bound manner.”
In an apparent reference to the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation on NDTV in an alleged bank fraud case, its co-founder and executive co-chairperson Prannoy Roy today said such acts cannot muzzle the freedom of the press and we will emerge unscathed after the attack.
Thanking the gathering of journalists here who had turned up to show solidarity with him, Mr Pannoy candidly presented his side of the story saying that it is just not about NDTV alone but the whole media fraternity which includes print as well that has been impacted by the raids. Mr Roy described as flimsy, concocted and utterly disgraceful the action of the Modi government in carrying out the raids on the NDTV premises and his residences spread across the country.
He said,” through these raids, the government wanted to convey that even if you are innocent, we can prove you wrong. It is a signal that the government can suppress anyone even if no wrong is done.’ Urging the media to not to lose the bigger challenge of preserving its freedom through thick and thin , Mr Roy said, “Let’s treasure it because India is one of the few countries in the world where media enjoys this right to the hilt.” ‘But our fight is not against tiny institutions like the CBI who are mere puppets in the hands of the mighty politicians but against the powerful political class which is trying to ruin the country by scuttling the freedom and power of the media,’ Mr Prannoy noted. ‘It is true that there is no smoke without fire but politicians can make smoke without fire as well as they have done in the NDTV case.On behalf of the NDTV , i assure that me and my wife Radhika will answer every charge freely and with transparency in a time bound manner,’ Mr Roy promised.
‘We have never taken even a one rupee bribe from anyone and all our property is also brought in white money.I promise that after these bad days, the NDTV family will see “achhe din”,’ the man in the eye of the storm affirmed.