The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday carried out raids at the residences of Prannoy Roy, Co-founder and Executive Co-Chairperson of New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV). Reportedly, the agency has registered a case against Roy, his wife Radhika and RRPR Holdings for allegedly causing losses of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank. The searches were carried out at four places in the national capital and Dehradun.
In a strongly worded statement, NDTV decried the CBI raids and termed the accusations as false. They also pledged to fight against the blatant attempts to undermine democracy and free speech in India.
“We have one message to those who are trying to destroy the institutions of India and everything it stands for: we will fight for our country and overcome these forces.”
Many people from the media fraternity such as Rajdeep Sardesai from India Today, N Ram who was the former Editor-In-Chief of The Hindu Newspaper, Praveen Swami from Indian Express, Sidharth Vardarajan who’s the founding-editor of The Wire, came out in support of NDTV after the raids at Prannoy Roy’s residences. Many even suggested that the raids on NDTV founder are reminiscent of the dark period of emergency that was imposed by Indira Gandhi.
Raid on @PrannoyRoyNDTV for a 2010 case in 2017? CBI/IT must put details in public fora else will face charge of vendetta against media.
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) June 5, 2017
Will professional bodies like NBA & Editors Guild & working journalists' organizations come out against this attack on media independence?
— N. Ram (@nramind) June 5, 2017
Today’s CBI raid on @PrannoyRoyNDTV is a defining moment: the last time this sort of thing happened was during the Emergency
— Praveen Swami (@praveenswami) June 5, 2017
Caged parrot flaps its wings. As big defaulters sit pretty, CBI raid on @NDTV is attack by Modi govt on media that won't play cheerleader.
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) June 5, 2017
— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) June 5, 2017
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) June 5, 2017
#ndtvraids….really sad and stand with all colleagues in NDTV media fraternity.
— Saba Naqvi (@_sabanaqvi) June 5, 2017
Questions were also raised as to how did the Roys become the first choice of CBI to conduct raids when multiple companies have NPAs worth thousands of crores as opposed to the alleged 48 crores by NDTV Founders.
Alleged that Roys owe banks Rs 48 crore. Adanis owe banks 72000 crore:https://t.co/Nhb6ru4BkV
May we expect Gautam bhai to be raided next?
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) June 5, 2017
Senior NDTV Employees also took to Twitter to condemn the raids and alleged that this was an attempt to silence independent voices in media. Vikram Chandra, former CEO of NDTV, also raised the question about billions worth of NPAs in public sector banks and also claimed that ICICI never complained and had in fact gotten back their money in full.
Message is clear: any independent voices in media will be bullied and shut down. Black day. https://t.co/lKE93K29cp
— Sreenivasan Jain (@SreenivasanJain) June 5, 2017
A message to those in the media who are still independent and do their job by fearlessly asking questions. We won't be intimidated https://t.co/sNC7pEPnOW
— Nidhi Razdan (@RazdanNidhi) June 5, 2017
The duty of a free media is to question and to report. If the price is harassment and attempted intimidation then so be it.
— Vikram Chandra (@vikramchandra) June 5, 2017
NDTV India’s news anchor Ravish Kumar in an obliquely worded statement on his Facebook page even dared PM Modi to come and face the camera.
तो आप डराइये, धमकाइये, आयकर विभाग से लेकर सबको लगा दीजिये। ये लीजिये हम डर से थर थर काँप रहे हैं। सोशल मीडिया और चंपुओं को लगाकर बदनामी चालू कर दीजिये लेकिन इसी वक्त में जब सब ‘गोदी मीडिया’ बने हुए हैं , एक ऐसा भी है जो गोद में नहीं खेल रहा है। आपकी यही कामयाबी होगी कि लोग गीत गाया करेंगे- गोदी में खेलती हैं इंडिया की हज़ारों मीडिया। एन डी टी वी इतनी आसानी से नहीं बना है, ये वो भी जानते हैं। मिटाने की इतनी ही खुशी हैं तो हुजूर किसी दिन कुर्सी पर आमने सामने हो जाइयेगा। हम होंगे, आप होंगे और कैमरा लाइव होगा ।
Translation: Scare us, threaten us, put all institutions including Income Tax department at work. Look we are already trembling with fear. Get your trolls on Social Media to start a defamation campaign against us. However, at a time when many media houses are playing in your lap (Godi Media), there’s one such media house that refuses to do so. Your success is that people will sing songs of how thousands of Indian media houses played in your lap. NDTV isn’t an overnight phenomenon, even they know that. If you are so eager to finish us, then Sir, some day, let’s sit across each other. We’ll be there, you’ll be there and so will be a Live Camera.
In the three years since Mr Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister, he hasn’t addressed a single press conference in India. His only public interaction with media in India has been during various ‘melas’ such as Diwali Milan. During these events, hordes of media personnel take numerous selfies with the Prime Minister, have a meal, and go back home without asking a single question.
Other than the sefie-mode interaction with media at large, Narendra Modi also appeared on Times Now in an interview with Arnab Goswami. Many jokes were made about that interview regarding Arnab Goswami’s docile behaviour while interviewing PM Modi as opposed to his usual loud self.
The only time PM Modi faced a real press conference in the last three years was when he addressed the joint press conference with the then UK PM David Cameron in November 2015. While the representatives of Indian media continued to be subservient, British Press gave PM Modi a tough time with David Cameron having to step in after a particularly awkward question.
Given PM Modi’s reluctance to face the press, his preferred journalists being those who believe in questioning the opposition instead of the Government, it would be an incredible surprise if PM Modi does take Ravish Kumar’s bait to sit across him in a chair and answer questions with a live camera rolling.
NDTV has now posted a private communication between ICICI Bank and RRPR Holding Private Limited dated August 7, 2009, according to which ICICI bank confirmed that the loan had been repaid in full.