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Monday , 21 August 2017
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False allegations, Scapegoat – beware!

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s exit as Editor of Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) has come under lot of spotlight. It is widely circulated in media that he was “fired” or “asked to step down” because Adani Group and Modi Government pressurized EPW for removing an article authored by him which claimed Modi Government tweaked laws to help Adani Group evade taxes to the tune of Rs. 500 crore.

The click-bait article soon went viral and Adani Group issued legal notice to the publishers and authors claiming that the allegations were baseless. This was followed by slapping of legal notice by Adani Group against the publishers and authors which eventually led to Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s resignation.

Multiple media houses immediately scrambled up and wrote articles how Paranjoy’s exit was because of backlash faced by EPW for publishing the article. The “attack on freedom of press” card was invoked and soon everyone had decided Adani Group has to be guilty of tax evasion. Public opinion was formed without any substantial evidence against the company.

I did a bit of research and here is what I found about the case. On 19th June, 2017, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta Advaid Rao Palepu, Shinzani Jain and Abir Dasgupta published an article titled ‘Modi Government’s Rs. 500 CRORE Bonanza to the Adani Group’. This was a follow up to the article published on 14th January, 2017 titled ‘Did the Adani Group Evade Rs. 1000 CRORE in Taxes?’ Close reading of the article shows how neither of these articles were backed by any evidence. Adani is a publicly listed company which has to file statutory reports with regulating bodies. If the tax evasion was true, how come it was not substantiated by extracts of these reports?

what a senior journalist with The Economic Times has to say on this.

    

Sameeksha Trust, publisher of the Economic and Political Weekly comes out on the quit of Former editor Guha Thakurta, and expressed the sense of unawareness of his actions against the credibility of the known business house. They on knowing the unacceptable publication Guha proceeded into, asked him to resign.

The articles conveniently mislead the readers by showcasing the decision of Gujarat High Court (taken when UPA was in power at centre) as “bonanza” by Modi to Adani. If his claims that all his allegations are backed by documents, what is stopping him from putting those documents in public domain? Let public be the judge after hearing both sides of the story?

Most companies under the Adani Group umbrella are public limited companies and their documents like annual report and other statutory reports are available on the public platform for all stakeholders to see. If only Paranjoy and his team had taken time out to do some research instead of wasting time on making wild assumptions!

Most of the time, the media acts as the watchdog for the government and public servants. They keep them accountable to keep the democracy alive and kicking. When people of repute and publications with influence on public opinion misuse their position, we start wondering if the Fourth Estate is really working in public interest!. Hope media persons correct the course and provide us readers unbiased news, and not clouded views.

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