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Never touched a rupee of black money or bribed anyone: NDTV's Prannoy Roy

Media community rallies around NDTV, criticises attack on free press

N Sundaresha Subramanian  |  New Delhi 

Prannoy Roy
NDTV founder Prannoy Roy addresses a protest meeting at Press Club of India in New Delhi on Friday against the CBI raids on his news channel in an alleged financial fraud case (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi Television (NDTV) founder on Friday said he and his company had never touched black money or bribed anyone. In a passionate speech before hundreds of journalists at the Press Club of India, Roy said the media group “will answer every one of the false charges”, but sought a time-bound process.  “We ask for transparency and a deadline,” he said.

“I commit to you, me and Radhika (Roy) and NDTV have never touched one rupee of black money, never bribed one person in our lives,” Roy said. Alleging that institutions such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were being abused by the politicians, Roy said, “This is not about NDTV. They are trying to tell you, ‘We will fix you, even if you are innocent’.” Roy spoke after an impressive array of eminent personalities and senior journalists spoke out against what was seen as the government’s attempt to muzzle free press.

Senior journalist began the proceedings comparing the situation to the times of the and Rajiv Gandhi’s move to bring the defamation Bill. “It’s not just NDTV; if you don't fall in line, you will meet the same fate. That’s the message. If this is not attack on freedom of press (what is)?” Dua asked.

Former Union minister and editor began by thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing all friends of the media together. In a speech that was oozing with trademark sarcasm and humour, Shourie said, “They are using instrument of overt pressure, they have made NDTV example of that. This will intensify in the coming months.”
Encouraging journalists to give it back to the trolls by getting active on social media, Shourie said if journalists thought they could get away by giving concessions to people in power by carrying their columns and interviews, their hopes are misplaced. He urged journalists to “redouble” their efforts in doing critical coverage.

 “We have only three protections — our solidarity, the court and the protection of our own readers and viewers,” he said.

Senior lawyer and constitutional expert Fali Nariman pointed out several lapses in the process followed by the in conducting the raids. Asserting that freedom of speech was all about freedom after speech, Nariman said, “The manner and circumstances of the raids give me reason to believe that it was an unjustified attack on press and freedom of media.”
He said according to the freedom of press enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution, media owners are entitled an opportunity to give their replies before such actions are initiated against them.

According to him, the should have ideally directed the complainant to file a criminal case since it seemed more a dispute between two private persons. On Monday, the had conducted raids at the residence of Roy after registering a case based on a complaint by Quantum Securities, a firm run by a Delhi-based stock broker and NDTV shareholder Sanjay Dutt.

Several speakers pointed to this timeline as evidence of the government’s intentions. The who’s who of the capital’s media community was present at the Press Club.

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