Archive for May 19th, 2011

Bombay journalist arrested under OSA for scoop

19 May 2011

In the kind of incident that shines a light on the kind of police-state India is fast becoming, a former reporter of the Bombay tabloid Mumbai Mirror has been jailed under the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) for an article that exposed the government railway police (GRP).

In June 2010, Tarakant Dwivedi wrote a lead story in the tabloid owned by The Times of India group under his pen name Akela, on how weapons purchased by the GRP after the 26/11 terror attacks were rotting the armoury due to water leakage in the monsoon.

The news report was backed up with two pictures (shot by Raju Shinde) which showed SLR rifles soaked in water lying on the floor of the armoury, and plastic sheets placed on top of a cupboard containing rifles and pistols at the CST armoury to prevent water from seeping in.

In recognition of his efforts that showed the railway police in all their glory, Dwivedi, who has joined MiD-DaY since  his expose, was booked for trespass and arrested under section 3 (1) (a) the OSA.

The relevant section reads:

“Penalties for spying. (1) If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State- (a) approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of, or enters, any prohibited place.”

Bombay’s journalists today took out a march to register their protest at the arrest of the scribe under OSA. Akela has been remanded to three days’ police custody.

Mid-Day editor Sachin Kalbag writes:

“This action smacks of vendetta, and no free press in any democracy should bow to this bullying by the police, which is clearly an effort to muzzle the press…. While the courts may eventually throw out the case, the harassment of going through the ordeal will serve as a deterrent for other journalists and publications.”

Read Dwivedi’s story: Leaks in CST armoury put new anti-terror arms under threat

Also read: You can’t muzzle the truth

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, NDTV & Prannoy Roy

19 May 2011

In conversation number #132 in the infamous Niira Radia tapes, the lobbyist whose name has become synonymous with the 2G scam, talks to M.K. Venu, then of The Economic Times, in July 2009:

Venu: Is Manoj (Modi) is here (in Delhi) today also, no?

Radia: Yeah, he is here, he is leaving in the afternoon, later part of the afternoon. We are meeting Prannoy (Roy of NDTV) today. We need to support Prannoy, you know… We feel it needs to be supported.

Now, the penny drops.

Money Life, the personal finance magazine run by the investigative journalist Sucheta Dalal, reports that the American investment firm D.E. Shaw has picked up a 14.2% stake in NDTV, providing an exit to another blue chip investor, Goldman Sachs, which held an equivalent stake.

Reports Money Life:

“Interestingly, the D.E. Shaw investment in NDTV has happened in less than two weeks since it joined hands with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to enter the Indian financial services sector. Now we know that Mukesh Ambani has a soft spot for NDTV’s promoters and anchors and that they had previously approached him for an investment.”

Manoj Modi is Mukesh Ambani’s Man Friday. Niira Radia represented Mukesh Ambani and counted NDTV Imagine among her many clients before the 2G scam broke.

M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian reported in March that Radia was behind the January 2010 launch of a book by bureaucrat-turned-politician N.K. Singh in London, for which Ambani, Venu and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt travelled together on the same plane.

Read the full article: NDTV continues to find buyers

Listen to the conversation: #132 M.K. Venu: July 09, 2009

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