On June 7, The New York Times published an editorial that described the recent raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation on the houses and offices of Prannoy Roy, the founder of NDTV, as "an alarming new level of intimidation of India's news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
The CBI has alleged that Roy had defaulted on a loan that he took from ICICI bank in 2008. Roy has denied defaulting on the loan. Those critical of the CBI's actions saw the raids as vendetta for NDTV's critical coverage of the Modi government. Others pointed out that there are larger corporations that regularly defaulted on loans without consequences.
On Thursday, the NYT carried the CBI's response which described its editorial as "one-sided and doesn't consider the investigation history of the case against RRPR Holdings by different tax and law enforcement agencies in India since 2011."
R.K. Gaur, spokesperson for the CBI, wrote, "India does not require any lesson on freedom of the press from The Times."
"The ICICI bank's loss is merely tip of the iceberg. RRPR Holdings, the holding company of NDTV, is also being investigated for irregularities in the mobilization of funds used for loan repayment. There have also been serious defaults in tax payment," he wrote.
India does not require any lesson on freedom of the press from The Times.
Freedom of the Press in India, CBI's response to the NYT editorial, June 15. -
The Central Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating over 100 criminal cases worth a total loan default of over $5 billion. Many of the leading loan defaulters are behind bars, their assets attached, and prosecutions are being pursued vigorously in the courts.
Your editorial states that NDTV Hindi was taken off the air for a day for reporting on a sensitive attack on an air base. The decision was arrived at after a proper inquiry in which NDTV also participated. No democracy can allow the country's security and public safety to be compromised by irresponsible reporting of terrorist incidents.
In this entire case due process of law is being followed. India has a robust and independent judiciary that strongly protects democratic freedom and that an aggrieved person can always approach. India does not require any lesson on freedom of the press from The Times. Our institutions and traditions are nurtured by our rich and diverse cultural heritage and democratic ethos.
India's Battered Press, NYT editorial, June 7. - The Central Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating over 100 criminal cases worth a total loan default of over $5 billion. Many of the leading loan defaulters are behind bars, their assets attached, and prosecutions are being pursued vigorously in the courts....
Since Mr. Modi took office in 2014, journalists have faced increasing pressures. They risk their careers — or lives — to report news that is critical of the government or delves into matters that powerful politicians and business interests do not want exposed. News outlets that run afoul of the government can lose access to officials. The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line.
The Central Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday that it "fully respects the freedom of press." Even if that's true, the question still outstanding is whether Mr. Modi does.
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