Various press bodies on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” over the CBI raids at the residence of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy, saying they condemn any “attempt” to either “intimidate the media” or put curbs on its freedom.
“We express grave concern over the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)… on the premises of NDTV promoters. While we maintain that all individuals and every institution have to abide by the law of the land, we condemn any attempt to either intimidate the media or put curbs on its freedom,” President of the Press Club of India, Gautam Lahiri said.
According to PTI news report, The Central Bureau of Investigation had on Monday searched the residence of Roy in New Delhi and three other locations for allegedly causing losses to a private bank, a move termed by the NDTV as a “witch-hunt” based on “same old” false accusations.
In a strongly-worded statement, the umbrella press body also said, “We hope that all facts of the case, filed by the CBI, will be placed in public domain and the investigating agency will not harass the media organisation or place any kind of hindrance in the news operations of the channel.”
The Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) alleged that the law of the land should not “apply selectively” nor should it be “used as an instrument to harass anyone including the media”.
Expressing “deep concern” over the raids, it said, “A statement issued by NDTV seems to suggest that these raids and police entry were ‘arbitrary and unwarranted’. Although no one is above the law, arbitrariness and intimidation undermine institutions of democracy and faith in law enforcement agencies. ”
The IWPC urges the government and its institutions to help the media uphold the values of freedom of expression in a democratic society like ours, it said in a statement.
All India Newspaper Editor’s Conference condemned the raid, alleging it was clearly a “case of an attack on freedom of the press”.
Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) strongly condemned the raids carried out at the residence of Roy, saying it was a “muscular manifestation” of muzzling the independent media.
NDTV in a statement on Monday had said that the channel and its promoters would fight tirelessly against this “witch-hunt” by multiple agencies.
“We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly 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,” NDTV said.
It may be recalled that CBI on June 5 conducted raids at premises of Prannoy Roy, NDTV co-founder and executive co-chairperson, in Delhi and Dehradun. An agency official said they were related to bank fraud.
This comes after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy alleged money laundering by the channel; he claimed prominent faces associated with it were involved, including Roy’s wife Radhika and journalist Barkha Dutt.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday defended the CBI raiding the home of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy, saying law is equal for all and everyone should develop a respect for it.
“You cannot distinguish between media people, politicians, doctors, etc. If you have broken the law then you have broken the law. We have to develop respect for the law, and for that, we have to make it clear that nobody is above the law. Fear of the law is necessary and it will be applied no matter who you are,” Swamy told ANI.
“When all these high-profile people are raided then the common man feels that if such people can be the subject to prosecution then what will happen to them. People will automatically become honest,” he added.
Interestingly the CBI raid comes two days after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra was asked to leave a show on NDTV by it’s anchor Nidhi Razdan.