A Greenpeace India activist Bharati Sinha, along with many concerned citizens, condemned assault on Freedom of Press in a case concerning Ambanis and journalists. BH posses the statement of concern on SLAPP Cases filed against authors, journalists and publishers. Prominent citizens who signed the statement condemned the threats of defamation cases served on authors, journalists and now as publishers in writing. BH also supports the statement, which is reproduced below. – Editor
We have read the book “Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis” co-authored and published by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and the review article ‘“Ambani ki dukaan?” ’by Sucheta Dalal, Managing Editor of moneylife magazine website and her messages on twitter and we found nothing defamatory either in the book or in the articles and tweets. The impeccable credentials of Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Sucheta Dalal have been exemplary for Indian journalism in the era of paid news, embedded journalism and draconian corporate control over media.
We note that both the book and the article are based on information that is readily available to everybody in the public domain.
We are outraged by the assault on freedom of press and public interest through threatening letters. The attempt to intimidate journalists who report truth which commercial czars is quite reprehensible.
We express our support to the authors and publishers in question who have exercised their right to free expression enshrined in Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. The day such voices are silenced that would be a black day for Indian journalism and democracy.
We have observed that the authors have been fair to Late Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and their companies, by providing their version of events and circumstances.
Among other issues, the core issue that this scholarly and rigorously referenced book and the articles in question raise is: who all are colluding with to deprive present and future generations of Indians of their claims of the natural resources of the country?
We have pondered over the questions like: “If gas price is low as per correct production rate then, why should Indians pay higher price of gas? Who wants Indians to pay price of Indian natural resource as per US price rate?” We observe that the legal notices from Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and their companies through their lawyers will have us accept that raising such questions is defamatory.
While delivering the speech at the award of Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter said, “I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory. If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.” Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, his co-authors and Sucheta Dalal and her colleagues have done their duty as citizens, writers and as purveyors of truth.
This undemocratic act by these richest persons of our country and the artificial persons-the companies- they run is totally unacceptable, deplorable and constitutes an illegitimate advance against citizens’ rights.
1. Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
2. Githa Hariharan, Writer
3. Garga Chatterjee, Indian Statistical Institute
4. Seema Mustafa, Editor, The Citizen, www.thecitizen.in
5. Chittaroopa Palit, Narmada Bachao Andolan
6. Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
7. Arun Kumar, Former Member, Press Council of India (XIth Term), General Secretary, Bihar Working Journalists Union, Member, National Executive Committee and Indian Journalists Union
8. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
9. Noor Zaheer Zaheer, Writer and Researcher
10. Preeti Sampat, Anthropologist, City University of New York
11. Siddharth Varadarajan, Journalist & Former Editor, The Hindu
12. Prof. (Dr) Dr.Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
13. Mitali Saran, Writer & Columnist
14. Subhash Gatade, author and human rights activist
15. Dr. Malem Ningthouja, Campaign for Peace & Democracy, Manipur
16. Irfan Engineer, Director, Institute of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, Mumbai
17. Mukul, Dube, Writer, Photographer and social activist
18. Gautam Navlakha, human rights activist & journalist, Delhi
19. Omair Ahmad, Author
20. Trupti Shah, Activist, Gujarat
21. Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP)
22. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human rights activist, Mumbai
23. Faisal khan, National Alliance of People’s Movements
24. Yashwant, Editor, http://bhadas4media.com/, NCR
25. Pushpraj, Journalist and Author of Nandigram Diary, Patna
26. Rohit Prajapati, Activist, Gujarat
27. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines, minerals & RIGHTS), Jharkhand
28. Prithvi Raj Sharma, founder member of Indian Community Activists network (ICAN)
29. Dilip Simeon, Historian and author of Revolution Highway, Delhi
30. Gopal Krishna, independent researcher, journalist and social activist
31. Dr Babu Rao Kalapala, Scientist
32. Dipak Dholakia, Citizens’ Solidarity—Forum for Water and Sanitation (CS-FWS)
33. Kiran Shaheen, Memoirist and activist
34. Sudhir Pattnaik, Writer and Media Person, Bhubaneswar
35. Sankara Narayanan, social activist
36. Persis Ginwalla, Social activist, Ahmedabad
37. B.R. Bapuji, Professor (Retired), University of Hyderabad
38. M. Thimma Reddy, People’s Monitoring Group on Electricity Regulation, Hyderabad
39. Shweta Tripathi, Social Activist
40. R.Subbarao, Social Activist, Secunderabad
41. Sagar Rabari, Jamin Adhikar Andolan, Gujarat (JAAG)
42. Krishnakant, Social activist, Gujarat
43. Ashok Tankashala, Journalist and Writer, Hyderabad
44. Dr Paresh R. Vaidya, Scientist