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Free Media Muzzled in Modi’s India

The law is above all and it should be allowed to function without interference but that doesn’t seem to be the case under Modi regime.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today (5th June) raided the house of Executive Co-Chairpersons of NDTV Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika’s house.

Reacting to these raids the NDTV has issued a statement stating, “This morning, the CBI stepped up the concerted harassment of NDTV and its promoters based on the same old endless false accusations. NDTV and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies. We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India,”. The complete statement can be read here.

The timing of these raids are being questioned by many as just last week BJP’s spokesperson Sambit Patra was asked to leave the show hosted by NDTV’s Nidhi Razdan. Mr. Patra was part of a panel discussion about the Central Government’s recent rules for cattle trading and slaughter. In between the debate Mr. Patra alleged that NDTV has been driving a specific ‘agenda’ [against the Modi Government]. To this accusation Nidhi Razdan said they are not like other channels who parrot the government’s words and Mr. Patra was asked to take back his words or leave the show.

Earlier in November 2016, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) imposed a day long ban on NDTV India for “broadcasting sensitive information” during the coverage of Pathankot attack. Almost all the media outlets covered the Pathankot attack with extensive details but only NDTV was singled out. NDTV had issued a statement against it saying, “The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact NDTV's coverage was particularly balanced.” The ban was later called off and NDTV was let off with a warning.

Many are condemning these raids. Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal has said, “We strongly condemn raids on Dr. Roy and NDTV group. Its an attempt to silence independent and anti-establishment voices.”

Congress has tweeted “Dissent can never be silenced through intimidation. Power to ask questions & demand answers is the greatest gift of Democracy.”

Modi government seem to have decided to intensify their assault on freedom of speech be it individuals’ or institutions’. Ever since Modi came to power the assaults on anyone, who speaks against his government or their ideology, have increased.

I&B minister, Venkaiah Naidu, said that these raids have no political interference and this is just law taking its course. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, has said the ‘nobody is above the law’.

The law is above all and it should be allowed to function without interference but that doesn’t seem to be the case under Modi regime. If it were, then Vijay Mallya, a defaulter of public banks, would not have been enjoying the India-Pakistan match yesterday in London.

Many people think that these seemingly unrelated incidents as part of a larger strategy of the Modi government. Since 2014, Media has been under immense pressure to not criticise RSS or BJP. While most channels have bow down to this pressure some still try to remain independent. NDTV’s case seems to signify that free media will not be tolerated in Modi’s ‘new India’.

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