Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, on Saturday, alleged that those who spoke in favour of NDTV were forgetting that the investigation began during the Congress-led UPA-II rule and that the channel was taken off air due to some issues. He also accused them of trying to "step up your anti-Modi campaign" by politicising the matter.
"My point is, that they [the CBI] have not entered the NDTV office. They have not entered the newsroom. They have not touched any media. There were some questions about some diversion from the promoters. They should answer it, they should respond to that... Is the media above law? Do you have immunity?....There is no action taken against the channel itself," Naidu said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had on June 5 registered a case against Prannoy Roy, the co-founder and executive co-chairperson of NDTV, for allegedly causing a huge loss of Rs 48 crore to the ICICI Bank. A case was also filed against his wife Radhika Roy, and a private company and a few others allegedly involved in the case. The CBI carried out raids at Roy's residence in New Delhi. The FIR mentioned that the Rs 48-crore loan defaulted by Roy is for a company named RRPR Holdings Private Limited.
Naidu on Saturday said that those protesting against the CBI raids on the promoters of the news channel were not doing so because they were worried about the freedom of press but because of their opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He added that the protesters should read the investigating agency's statement and react to that.
"The CBI has said that the enquiry started in 2011-'12. Who was in the government [then]?What were these people doing then, those who were shouting yesterday? What happened to them when the Congress was in power?....Why this propaganda against our government? Because they are not able to digest Modi....Modi is the most democratic Prime Minister of this country; most dynamic," the I&B Minister said.
Prannoy Roy says CBI allegations "concocted set of facts"
Roy, while addressing members of the media at the Press Club of India on Friday, said the CBI's allegations of bank fraud were a "ridiculous, concocted set of facts" and that the raids was a "signal to the entire free press of India."
Roy said: "This is not about NDTV. This is a signal to all of us and the fact that there is no case — there is a ridiculous, concocted set of facts — makes it an even bigger signal. They are trying to tell us — we can suppress you even if you have done nothing wrong." He added that their fight was not against the CBI or the Income Tax Department or the Enforcement Directorate (ED) but against politicians who, according to him, were using these institutions and "ruining and destroying our country."
The NDTV co-founder asked for a time-bound and transparent investigation into the matter. He also said: "Here today I commit that we will answer every one of these false charges openly and transparently.... Radhika (Roy) and I, and NDTV have never touched one rupee of black money. We have never bribed one person in our lives."
Senior journalists, including Kuldip Nayar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arun Shourie and Shekhar Gupta, who were present at the gathering, criticised the raids saying that they were an attempt to curb the freedom of the press and also cautioned media organisations against becoming instruments in the hands of the Modi government.