Editors come out in support of NDTV

MUMBAI: Editors of various reputed media organisations and well-known personalities yesterday came out in support of NDTV, the offices of which and residence of promoters were raided by CBI recently. The Press Club of India had organised a meet to protest against the attack on freedom of press.

Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai said, "I believe in the present atmosphere, silence is not an option. This a moment when we have to be on the right side of history."

Senior journalist Kuldip Nayar said, "During the Emergency, nobody had to tell anybody what to do. Today, when we are facing more or less the same situation - not (to) that extent - all of us have to ensure we don't allow anybody to muzzle free speech."

Senior journalist Raj Chengappa said: "Any attack or raid is a serious threat particularly if residences and offices are being raided in such a manner."

Senior journalist and former minister Arun Shourie said: "I have a couplet for Narendra Modi: He who was occupying this throne before you. He also had a similar belief that he was God. First they used incentives like ads, then a subterranean atmosphere of fear. Now, they are using a third instrument of overt pressure. They have made NDTV an example of that. Anybody who has tried to lay a hand on the press in India, has had their hand burnt. The CBI has not been able to answer the facts put out by NDTV. There is even an article on The Wire. The facts are irrefutable."

He added: "We have only three protections: our solidarity, the court, the protection of our own readers and viewers."

Former Rajya Sabha Member HK Dua said: "Last time, most of the press community did not stand up. They crawled, as (L.K) Advani famously said. Then came the defamation bill.
We got together, it became a national movement. (Late prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi sought talks but we refused. The unity of the press won the battle. The bill had to be withdrawn as the people were against (it). Similar signs are visible now. Unless we are united, we can meet the same fate. This is a wake-up call, we have to be vigilant and cautious of such attacks."

Jurist Fali Nariman said: "Freedom after speech is what freedom of speech is all about.
No one is immune from being prosecuted under a criminal offence, but the manner, circumstances give me reason to believe all of this is unjustified attack on press and media freedom. On 2nd of June, an FIR is lodged by the CBI -- seven years after the event. Why it was not brought to light earlier was not mentioned earlier in the complaint. The CBI did not bother to find out. The first thing CBI is expected to do, once a such complaint is filed, is seek NDTV's response. But that wasn't done."

He added: "When any government agency files a complaint against a media company, it must first enquire from the owners what they have to say in the matter before conducting raids. This is not a matter of courtesy or favour, but a constitutional duty."

"Whenever there is a majoritarian government, there is this tendency. We must resist it," he said.

India Today group editor-in-chief Aroon Purie said: "I strongly believe the freedom of the media is inviolable in a democracy. Such a move also undermines basic tenets of free speech."

Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta: "This is an issue that concerns the mother of all our institutions - the free press. This is an assault on the free press. Social media got us all disoriented. I hope NDTV will continue to do what it is doing. Our job is to speak truth to power."

NDTV co-founder Dr Prannoy Roy said: Once I went to China, they asked me aren't you a bit jealous of our skyscrapers? I said we have the best skyscraper: free speech. This is not just a flimsy case against NDTV. It is a signal to all of us: we can suppress you even if you haven't done anything. Their message is: crawl, or we'll come for you. I say: Stand up and they'll never do."

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