CBI raids NDTV founder Prannoy’s houses, sparks outrage

NEW DELHI: In a move that sparked outrage and which NDTV said was “a blatant political attack on the freedom of the press”, the CBI on Monday conducted searches at the houses of the news network’s co-founder Prannoy Roy (pictured) for allegedly causing financial losses to a private bank.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against Roy, his wife Radhika, a private company and conducted searches at his south Delhi residence in Greater Kailash-I and his house in Dehradun for “loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank”, officials said.
The officials said the office of RRPR Holding, the promoter of the listed broadcaster, was also searched.
“Searches were conducted (on Monday) at four places, including Delhi and Dehradun,” CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said.
An FIR dated on June 2 said the case has been registered against Roy, a veteran journalist, Radhika, NDTV and RRPR for “criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct”.
It relates to alleged irregularities in a 2008 loan of Rs 366 crore that NDTV took from the private bank on guarantee by the holding company.
The loan, according to the CBI complaint, was settled a year later for a repayment that was Rs 48 crore less than the loaned amount.
NDTV and its linked companies have been under the scanner since 2014 and were last year served notices by the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate.
But, it was for the first time that the CBI has come into the picture of a financial probe against the network, often seen by Bharatiya Janata Party supporters as opposed to the party ideology and the government.
The news network in a strongly-worded statement said the CBI had “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,” the statement said.
“It is clearly the independence and fearlessness of NDTV’s team that the ruling party’s politicians cannot stomach. No matter how much the politicians attack us — We will not give up the fight for freedom and the independence of media in India.”
But Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu rubbished the witch-hunt allegation. “Law is taking its own course. This government does not believe in interfering.
If somebody does something wrong simply because they belong to the media, you cannot expect the government to keep quiet.” — IANS