The past couple of weeks haven’t been too good for NDTV. First, with its announcement that NDTV Profit will be taken off air in the near future and today, on the 5th of June, its Co-Founder Executive Chairperson, Prannoy Roy’s residence has been raided by the CBI in connection with a Rs 396 crores bank loan default taken from ICICI Bank. CBI spokesperson, RK Gaur, has said, “CBI has registered a case against Shri Prannoy Roy, Ms Radhika Roy, a private company and others for causing an alleged loss to a bank.” He added that searches were being conducted at four places including Delhi and Dehradun.
The reaction from different quarters has been, as usual, along expected lines. The Bhakt Camp is evidently jubilated at the apparent crackdown on the alleged news channel they hold with most contempt. The Secular Camp, living up to its credentials, is fuming over the imposition of an undeclared emergency. NDTV, with its band of part time journalists and full time propagandists, has been the most favored media outlet of the Secular Brigade as it never fails to confirm all the biases they hold against the BJP.
NDTV has issued a statement on the CBI raids in which it accused the CBI of ‘concerted harassment’ based on ‘endless false accusations.’
NDTV dubbed the move as a blatant attempt to ‘undermine democracy and free speech in India’. One wonders how exactly does stringent action against the corrupt tantamount to undermining democracy and free speech. It is the same old tactic liberals have been employing for decades: When caught red handed, allege persecution. An interesting thing to note is, in its statement, NDTV completely ignored the specific reasons for the raids by CBI. Instead, they linked the raids to Free Speech and Democracy to gain the Morally Superior Ground and cry victim.
Ashutosh from the Aam Aadmi Party tweeted his support to Prannoy Roy, “Pranay Roy is a living legend. He redefined TV NEWS in India. He zealously protected editorial independence in most adverse conditions. Media should come together despite all kinds of differences and protest govt’s oppressive measures. Media should support Pranay roy.”
Nikhil Wagle tweeted, “BY @ndtv raids @narendramodi proves this is undeclared emergency. Whoever criticizes this govt will be taught a lesson!’
The boxer of Madison Garden, Rajdeep Sardesai also tweeted his support to Prannoy Roy, “Raid on @PrannoyRoyNDTV for a 2010 case in 2017? CBI/IT must put details in public for a else will face charge of vendetta against media.
Prannoy Roy is getting a lot of support from the same quarter as is only to be expected.
The interesting aspect about all these rants about undeclared emergency is none of these eminent journalists uttered so much as a whine when Mamata Banerjee filed a lawsuit against Zee News’ Sudhir Chaudhary and his colleague for reporting on the Dhulagarh riots. And the same people cheered raucously when Shashi Tharoor sued Arnab Goswami for his reportage of the Sunanda Pushkar murder case. And none of these eminent citizens could find anything wrong when Suresh Chavhanke of Sudarshan TV was taken into Police Custody. It is quite evident that Lutyens Delhi feels the pangs of undeclared emergency only when one of their own faces the prospect of prosecution, even if it is for completely legitimate reasons.
One hopes that the CBI raids at Prannoy Roy’s residence marks a definitive change in Narendra Modi’s media policy. Thus far, Mr. Modi has been content with the media destroying its credibility on its own without much assistance from his side. However, it is not the first time NDTV has run into trouble. The Enforcement had served NDTV a notice back in 2015 for allegedly violating foreign exchange norms. Again, not in the distant past, the government had decided to enforce a 24 hour ban on NDTV for its irresponsible coverage of the Pathankot Attack. But the government eventually capitulated and withdraw the ban.
Narendra Modi’s track record in destroying the ecosystem has been quite exemplary but he has an abysmal record when it comes to bringing the guilty to justice. A lot of people on the Bhakt camp have been quite disappointed with the leniency NaMo has shown against propagandists in the media who regularly slander BJP leaders and unabashedly attempt to inflame communal passions and hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. However, NaMo has been discrediting the ecosystem with remarkable efficiency thus far and the raids today may indicate that the gloves have finally come off.
One should notice the reaction of the Lutyens media about the raids. It is quite evident that they fancy themselves above the law. It is quite amazing that whenever one of their own is raided or served a notice or prosecuted, it immediately transforms into a Freedom of Expression issue and oppression. Pray tell me, how does a raid conducted in relation to an alleged crime committed have anything whatsoever to do with Freedom of Expression.
The message from Lutyens Delhi is simple, “Allow us to do as we please, allow us the complete freedom to indulge in felony and crime and irresponsible coverage which could risk national security. If you do not adhere to our demands, then you’re a fascist dictator curbing our right to Freedom of Expression because we dared to resist you.” It is rather comical, seriously. It’s about time that Lutyens Delhi learns that Freedom of Expression doesn’t guarantee one the freedom to commit felonies and crimes without the risk of inviting prosecution.