Responding to NDTV’s allegation that the CBI raids were a witch-hunt, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister
M Venkaiah Naidu said Monday that there was no political interference and the law was taking its course.
“If somebody does something wrong, simply because they belong to media, you cannot expect the government to keep quiet,” Naidu told reporters. The officials were doing their duty and there was no political interference in this, he said, adding that media was free and independent in the country. “The CBI might have received some information. That is why they have taken action,” Naidu said.
His remarks came after NDTV, in a statement this morning, called the raids a “witch-hunt” and said: “We have one message to those who are trying to destroy the institutions of India and everything it stands for: we will fight for our country and overcome these forces.”
In Jaipur, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that the government is committed to protecting the freedom of expression and freedom of the press and will also ensure that the law of the land prevails.
The Congress condemned the CBI raid. “We feel it is an assault on media freedom and attack on the fourth pillar of the democracy…This is also an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear and terror among media houses,” senior Congress leader Ajay Maken said at an AICC press conference.
He said the raid also revealed the Government’s pick-and-choose approach. “The BJP and the Central government should say how many private defaulters were raided like this….Vijay Mallya, who defaulted over Rs 9000 crore, is sitting in London and watching the Champions Trophy. There is no action against them. He was allowed to leave the country. And on the other hand, there is an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear among media houses,” he added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the raids an attempt to “silence independent and anti-establishment voices”. So did West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who called it “disturbing.”
Calling the entry of police and other agencies into media offices a “serious matter,” the Editors’ Guild of India expressed its deep concern. “While the Editors’ Guild maintains that no individual or institution is above the law, the Guild condemns any attempt to muzzle the media and calls upon the CBI to follow the due process of law and ensure there is no interference in the free functioning of news operations,” said its statement.
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