‘Don’t Need Lessons on Press Freedom’: CBI to NYT on NDTV Raids
CBI’s response came after an editorial in The New York Times heavily criticised the agency raids against NDTV.
Amongst the shower of criticism over the CBI raids on the residences and offices of NDTV co-founders Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to the private bank ICICI on 6 June, was that of the reputed American publication The New York Times (NYT).
Carrying an editorial titled ‘India's Battered Free Press’, the newspaper termed the raids as marking “an alarming new level of intimidation of India's news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
However, the editorial was met with a strong rebuttal from India's premier investigative agency, as it unequivocally stated, “India does not require any lesson on freedom of the press from The Times”.
Notably, the CBI's rebuttal was published by the publication a week after the editorial came out under the 'Letter' category.
The rebuttal was written by the CBI spokesperson and press information officer RK Gaur.
Here are some excerpts from both the pieces, put side-by-side, to give a sense of their respective views.
On The CBI Raids
Regarding RPRR holdings, NDTV’s holding company, the CBI further went on to say:
The ICICI bank’s loss is merely tip of the iceberg. RRPR Holdings is also being investigated for irregularities in the mobilisation of funds used for loan repayment. There have also been serious defaults in tax payment.CBI
On the Issue of Loan Default in India
The editorial emphasised on how the raids against NDTV were carried out even while the Modi government “hesitated to go after big defaulters”.
On Banning NDTV Hindi For a Day Last Year
In November last year, news came out that NDTV Hindi was banned by the government for the way it covered the Pathankot airbase terrorist attack of January 2016. The development drew a lot of flak from the journalist community, with many condemning the order as an attempt to undermine the freedom of press.
Rebutting NYT’s editorial, the CBI claimed that “The decision (to take NDTV off air) was arrived at after a proper inquiry in which NDTV also participated.”
On the Freedom of the Press
The NYT editorial further went on to remark on the current state of affairs in India’s media industry, saying, “The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line.”
On the other, hand, the CBI chose to underline the democratic character of the country, saying, “Our institutions and traditions are nurtured by our rich and diverse cultural heritage and democratic ethos.”
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