Coming together in support of media house NDTV on June 9, several senior journalists gathered at Delhi’s Press Club of India to protest against an “Emergency-like situation” where attempts are being made to “drown the voices of media”.
The conference was called by NDTV founder Prannoy Roy who is demanding that issues involving his channel be resolved as soon as possible and in a time-bound manner.
Other senior journalists who came in his support were Kuldeep Nayyar, Arun Shourie, H K Dua, S Nihal Singh, Raj Chengappa and Shekhar Gupta among others.
The conference was called just days after CBI conducted searches at Roy residence and three other locations for allegedly causing “losses to a private bank”.
Since the CBI raid, NDTV has described the actions as a “witch-hunt” against them which is based on “same old” false accusations that were made before.
Talking about the raid former Union Minister and veteran journalist Arun Shourie alleged that the current government is controlling the media and that they are using two major instruments to do so.
These two instruments of control are “offering bribe” through advertisements or by “subterranean spreading of fear”.
He said that NDTV is now being made example of a “third instrument” in which “overt pressure” is being put on the media channels and that they have made NDTV an example of that.
He went on to add that this will only intensify in the coming months as the government would in future not only resort to managing but also “suppressing the voices of dissent”.
Arun Shourie’s speech on media freedom at Press Club of India https://t.co/jnis17BurD
— NDTV (@ndtv) June 9, 2017
He then went on to request all the journalists to not give prominence to articles on ministers as at the time of crisis they would not help them.
“If you (journalists) think that if you give prominence to articles of some of the ministers in newspapers or give them air time, they will help you in crisis. In fact, when the assault comes on you, none of them will help…There is no minister here. The government is of two-and-a-half men.”
Though he didn’t elaborate who these “two and a half men” are he went on to add that boycotting the ministers and not cooperating with them were the only ways to fight for freedom of Press.
“Do not call them to your functions.Instead of buying peace with concession, I would urge non-cooperation…just boycott their (government’s) press conferences, deny them that.”
Elaborating on Shourie’s request eminent jurist Fali S Nariman added that while no one is immune to being prosecuted for a criminal offense, the manner and circumstances of the event and the “so-called justification of the CBI raids” that have been given gives him reason to believe that all this is definitely an unjustified attack on press and media.