On Saturday, Times of India and Economic Times prominently carried a report each on how the income of BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidates in Gujarat had experienced phenomenal jump. According to the report, the party’s president, Amit Shah in particular, has had his income jumped by a whopping 300%.
Although the report said that the income of Congress nominee, Ahmed Patel, too had increased, it was the detail on Shah that caught everyone’s attention the most.
The Times of India Report (below), authored by Himanshu Kaushik and Kapil Dave, said that Shah’s assets had grown by 300% in the last five years.
The same report also informed how Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani conceded in her election affidavit that she had yet to complete her bachelor’s degree.
However, within hours of the story going viral on social media, the links to both ToI and ET mysteriously disappeared from the web. (Please see the screenshots below)
The Economic Times story was titled ‘Here’s how much Gujarat’s top 4 Rajya Sabha candidates are worth today.’
However, while the original link still throws up in Google search (see above), upon clicking the link, one ends up on the below page with the message ‘404 ERROR.’ (see below)
While the papers may have removed the link, the social media users have been equally quick to post the screenshots of the original reporting in the newspaper. And this has begun to gain plenty of attention with the topic dominating the conversation on Twitter.
Journalist Karnika Kohli wrote, “Story by @KapildaveTOI on Amit Shah’s assets has mysteriously vanished from the TOI.in http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/shahs-assets-grew-by-300-in-five-years/articleshow/59815414.cms … Just another Saturday.”
— Karnika Kohli (@KarnikaKohli) July 29, 2017
Joy Das, a prolific social media user who also works in ad agency, wrote, “The Journalist is lucky. Only the Article about Amit Shah’s Assets has disappeared…”
The Journalist is lucky. Only the Article about Amit Shah’s Assets has disappeared… https://t.co/aozB6qiCU3
— Joy (@Joydas) July 29, 2017
Little later in the day, it emerged that DNA website, part of the Zee Media Group, too had removed the link to the story.
The Centre’s Narendra Modi government has often been accused of welding too much clout over the functioning of the press, thereby allegedly curtailing their ability to function independently. Many media insiders have pointed out how failure to ‘comply’ with the government order have led to both sacking of the reporters in question and withdrawal of ads worth crores of rupees.
The independence of media or lack of it under the Modi government has often been compared with the days under Emergency. Although, the members of the government have denied these allegations.