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Is Modi Government Trying To Throttle NDTV's Prannoy And Radhika Roy?

10 August 2019

Debashish Maharana

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Bhubaneswar: In the wake of NDTV founders Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika were allegedly prevented from leaving the country at the Mumbai airport yesterday (Friday) despite they reportedly had possessed return-tickets to India for August 16, it has sparked off knee-jerk reactions from the media fraternity here in Odisha’s capital city today.

Media reports said that the couple was stopped from travelling abroad over the alleged corruption cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) two years ago.

Soon after the development, NDTV company has reportedly labelled the corruption cases as "fake and wholly unsubstantiated" in its tweets and has further claimed that the ICICI loan in question and that had been taken by the company had been fully repaid with interest ahead of schedule.

The company also alleged through its tweets that the Friday's action along with raids on media owners is "a warning to the media to fall in line".

NDTV’s statement on Friday has reportedly been quoted by IANS: "Radhika and Prannoy Roy have been fully cooperating with the case and they have been travelling abroad regularly and returning to the country so to suggest they are a flight risk is ludicrous."

The company’s statement has further been quoted, "The authorities did not inform the court, where the matter is sub judice, or the Roys, about today's (Friday) action. It is, along with events like raids on media owners, a warning to the media to fall in line - or else."

Notwithstanding that, NDTV senior journalist Ravish Kumar has also recently  been conferred on Asia’s coveted Ramon Magsaysay Award – 2019 in recognition of his “unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy.”

Talking to OMMCOM NEWS, senior journalist Rabi Das remarked, “I feel the Emergency Era of 1975 is limping back to India. I was in the protest against Emergency then and our print media press was also seized by the police. The irony is that the present Prime Minister and his party colleagues claim to have protested against Emergency, but, how could they resort to such activities now?”

He burst, “Unleashing fear psychosis among the people had also been during Emergency. Once the voices of the opponents are throttled, the general public automatically gets cowed down. Now also the same environment is being created. Under this environment, the critics of the Government are being suppressed.”

The media veteran asserted, “The incident of yesterday meted out to Prannoy Roy was because his NDTV is the only news channel showing the real picture of Kashmir situation in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370. If NDTV could be suppressed in this manner, no other TV channels in India will dare to oppose the Government. Most of other channels are supporting.”

“Such an act is total throttling of media. If this act is criticized, the person or organization will also be taken into task. The history of Emergency is being repeated now,” fumed the senior scribe.

Another senior scribe Priya Ranjan Sahu reacted, “The manner in which Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy were prevented at the airport, I strongly condemn it as well as the Government’s such an attitude.”

“The way today’s media is functioning, big corporate houses and capitalists have taken it over. Nevertheless, only one mainstream media at the national level maintain at least semblance of fairness, not can be termed complete fairness. Under such a scenario, the act of the Government can be dubbed as its intolerance. Since the channel isn’t yet propaganda machine of the Government, this act is a pressure tactics.”

He rued, “While it was being said that media is the fourth pillar of democracy, now it has turned into a first pillar of crony capitalism. Hence, the journalists should try to understand from the incident. They should be all awake and vehemently oppose it. Now the entrepreneurs have also started committing suicide. The glaring instance is Coffee Café Day (CCD). Due to such act of hounding, other top entrepreneurs and job creators will also suffer like this as they are not following the Government’s line.”

“I think it is very fatal. If all the conscious citizens don’t remain alert and wake up to the occasion, such an environment will be catastrophic playing havoc.”

On the contrary, OMMCOM NEWS could not avail any reactions from the BJP leaders of Odisha despite concerted efforts as most of the sources remained incommunicado. Even the cell phone of Odisha’s Leader of Opposition was found switched off despite several calls made till the filing of this report.

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Rabi Das, Senior Journalist

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Priya Ranjan Sahu, Senior Journalist