‘Press freedom in India suffered a fresh blow on Monday’


In a scathing editorial, the New York Times on Wednesday likened the CBI raids on the offices of Prannoy Roy, founder of NDTV, to ‘fresh blow’ on press freedom in India.

In its editorial, the NYT wrote, “Press freedom in India suffered a fresh blow on Monday when the country’s main investigative agency raided homes and offices connected to the founders of NDTV, India’s oldest television news station. The raids mark an alarming new level of intimidation of India’s news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

The editorial added, “The story is a bit tangled, but here’s the gist: The Central Bureau of Investigation says it conducted the raids because of a complaint that NDTV’s founders had caused “an alleged loss” to ICICI, a private bank, related to repayment of a loan. In 2009, ICICI said the note had been paid in full. Not really, the investigators said: A reduction in the interest rate had saddled the bank with a loss — hence the raid.”

The paper also highlighted the alleged hypocrisy of the Centre’s Narendra Modi government in turning a blind eye to the big corporates having defaulted on crores of rupees of bank loans while targetting an ‘influential media house’ for a loan, which was already settled years ago.

Some of these defaulters have been a donors to Modi’s party, the BJP.

The NYT editorial said that ‘since Mr. Modi took office in 2014, journalists have faced increasing pressures.’

“They risk their careers — or lives — to report news that is critical of the government or delves into matters that powerful politicians and business interests do not want exposed. News outlets that run afoul of the government can lose access to officials. The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line,” it added.

You can read the full editorial here