NDTV’s popular anchor, Ravish Kumar, on Monday lashed out at the Centre’s Narendra Modi government after one of its federal agencies raided the houses and other premises of the channel’s founders, Prannoy and Radhika Roy.
The government’s move was widely condemned as many likened it to the days of Emergency, when press freedom had come under serious attack.
Ironically, many in the Modi government then had opposed the attack on media and had even spent time in jails.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, the channel’s popular anchor, Ravish Kumar said, “Journalists must apply for jail sentence in advance even though they have not committed any crime. They should spend 3-4 years in jail without any crime.
“And whenever government implicates them in false cases, they should get their time spent in jail adjusted against that. Then public must decide who’s doing journalism and who’s not. What should I say, I simply don’t understand anything. The way you (government) are threatening us, instilling fear in the system of media, does it augur well?”
Ravish also suggested setting up of branches of CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax outside the offices of media houses that were critical of the government.
He said, “The stakeholders of democracy should also introspect if media should remain fearless? If media can’t be fearless then how can aam aadmi be fearless. Can a common man afford to be fearless? There should be offices of ED, CBI and Income Tax outside outside every media houses on a permanent basis. These offices should be opened outside the media houses, raising uncomfortable questions. Rest of the media houses are anyway doing a desirable job.”
Ravish had earlier taken to Facebook to challenge the Modi government to come face to face in front of a LIVE camera if it wished to finish off the NDTV.
In a powerful Facebook post, Kumar wrote, “So you intimidate ans threaten us and put everyone including the Income Tax department against us. See we are trembling in fear. Now employ your stooges on social media to defame us. But amidst the fashion of media playing in your lap, there’s one media house that refuses to do so. Your success will be when every sings ‘thousands of Indian media houses play in your lap.’ NDTV hasn’t come into existence so easily, even you know that. If you are so happy to see our end, then let’s come face to case someday on chairs. We and you will be there and there will be live camera.”
The CBI’s extraordinary raids on the houses of the NDTV promoter and veteran journalist Prannoy Roy has come just days after the channel’s anchor, Nidhi Razdan, had on-air altercation with a BJP spokesperson, Sambit Patra.
Razdan had told Patra to leave the show if he did not apologise after he accused the NDTV of spreading misinformation with an agenda.
A defiant NDTV, meanwhile, posted a message on its website promising to fight ‘the attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India.’
Its statement said, “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.”