Indian Express posts onesided report on Hindu Terror without asking NIA?

Indian Express has earned a rather bad reputation when it comes to publishing factual news. Many news stories of Indian Express have turned out to be fake, and most of them have been critical of BJP or the Modi Government, but without any facts to back them up. In what may be the latest such instance, Indian Express is under fire for a story which claims Modi Government has asked Public Prosecutors to go slow on “Hindu Terrorists”.

Firstly, the entire post is based only on an interview with Rohini Salian, Special Public Prosecutor in the case related to the Malegaon 2008 blasts. Indian Express, has drawn whatever conclusions it has, only based on the version of this lady.

Salian claims, that over the past one year, she has been asked to go “soft” on this case. She says a senior officer from NIA told her this, but for some reason stops short of naming him, citing that he is “senior”. She also claims that “higher-ups” did not want her to appear in the court for the State of Maharashtra and that another advocate was asked to attend the proceedings.

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While she claims that the Government has asked her to go slow, she also mentions that the Supreme Court has now decreed that the case should be tried in a special court with a specially appointed judge to see to the matter, because of which, “its back to square one”.

The problem it seems, with the Indian Express report, is that it is one-sided, written without confirming the facts with NIA. And hence, the NIA in a strongly worded rebuttal has rejected these theories.

Firstly, NIA says, on 16th June 2015 itself, it has received recommendations for denotification of 3 Special Public Prosecutors including Salian,  in view of the fact that many Special Public Prosecutors  are already available. NIA further says this reccomendation is under process. On the other hand Salian says she wants the NIA to denotify her from the case so that she can fight “other cases, against the NIA, if need be”. So while the process to denotify her began almost 10 days back, Salian now herself wants to get denotified. Is it a case where Salian got whiff of her removal in advance, and in order to cover that fact, she wants to give a twist, trying to signal that here removal is Political?

Secondly, NIA makes it clear that the Malegaon case, which Salian is handling, hasn’t yet reached the trial stage. As per rules of NIA,  when cases haven’t reached such advanced stages, “the branch Public Prosecutors (who are Government Officers) deal with the same except when a complex legal matter is involved which warrant the services of Special Public Prosecutors”.  “Therefore”, it says, “it is incorrect to infer that Ms Salian was being bypassed for court appearances “.

Further, NIA completely denies issuing any “inappropriate briefing” by any officer to Salian. It also chides Indian Express for a one-sided story by saying:

NIA also wishes to place on record that before publishing a news article , it is expected that the concerned reporter approaches the agency for hearing its version and avoids writing a one sided story.

So for now, it is the NIA’s word vs the Indian Express’s interview with the Public Prosecutor. Only time and probably the courts will tell who was speaking the truth.

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