Media

Stories on Amit Shah’s Assets, Smriti Irani’s ‘Degree’ Vanish From TOI, DNA

TOI Amit Shah Smriti Irani assets educational qualification

New Delhi: A story carried by the Times of India’s Ahmedabad edition about an apparent increase of “300%” in BJP president Amit Shah’s assets over the past five years was removed from the the paper’s website within hours of being published on Saturday. No explanation has been given and no editor is willing to take responsibility for having pulled the plug on the news item.

The story, which reported how Shah’s assets had grown by 300% between 2012 – when he last filed a declaration as part of his nomination papers for the Gujarat assembly election – and 2017, also noted that textiles and information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani has clarified in her affidavit that she has not yet completed her Bachelor of Commerce course.

Excerpt from Smriti Irani's 2004 election affidavit. The full affidavit may be accessed at the ADR website.

Excerpt from Smriti Irani’s 2004 election affidavit. The full affidavit may be accessed at the ADR website.

In her 2014 election affidavit for the Lok Sabha seat, when she fought against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at Amethi, she had entered, under the education qualifications column, ‘B. Com. Part 1, School of Correspondence, Delhi University, 1994’.

She had made the same entry in her affidavit for election to the Rajya Sabha in 2011. Curiously, in her affidavit for the 2004 Lok Sabha election, which she fought from Chandni Chowk in New Delhi, she wrote: ‘BA. 1996. Delhi University. School of Correspondence’.

The Times of India story was also initially carried by the websites of the TOI‘s sister publications Navbharat Times (NBT) and Economic Times (ET) before being taken down from there too.


Also read: Leaked Message Throws Spotlight on Finance Ministry, Conflict of Interest of TOI Editor

 


Times of India editors whom The Wire contacted said they had no information about the article but also requested that they not be identified. A message to the top management of Bennet Coleman and Company Ltd, which owns the newspapers, remained unanswered at the time of publication of this story.

TOI Amit Shah Smriti Irani assets educational qualification

The Times of India (Ahmedabad edition) story which mysteriously vanished from the newspaper’s websites on Saturday.

The information about Shah’s assets and the latest iteration of Irani’s controversial educational qualifications was acquired from public affidavits filed by Shah and Irani, who are contesting for the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.

Affidavits filed by Shah in 2012 and 2007 also showed an increase of over Rs 6 crore in his assets during that 5-year period.

In a sign that TOI pulled the Shah-Irani story in response to external ‘stimulus’ and not internal review, similar news item published on July 29 by DNA‘s print edition was also deleted from its website.

DNA Amit Shah Smriti Irani assets educational qualification
The story is, however, still available in DNA’s e-paper:

DNA Amit Shah Smriti Irani assets educational qualification

Clip of story on Amit Shah’s assets which appeared in DNA on Saturday, July 29, 2017.

This isn’t the first instance of the Times Group deleting stories without informing its readers of the reasons. Ironically, a report on India’s low ranking on the World Press Freedom index was pulled down from the TOI and ET websites in May. When News Laundry contacted the then TOI.in editor, Prasad Sanyal, to know why they decided to pull down the article, they were informed that it was the media house’s ‘editorial prerogative’.


Also read: TOI Slammed for ‘Fake News’ Linking Missing JNU Student Najeeb Ahmed to ISIS

 


On Saturday night, Aam Aadmi Party leader tweeted the link of a story about Amit Shah’s assets from Outlook Hindi’s website

The story still displays on mobile phones via Google’s accelerated media pages (AMP) but searching for a string of text from the AMP version generates a headline in Google News and a link to the Outlook Hindi site which displays an error. Has the piece been pulled? Is the piece that Google AMP is showing a checked version? Outlook Hindi editor Harvir Singh told The Wire on Sunday afternoon that he was not aware of any issue with the link and said he would revert after checking with his technical team. One day later, the Outlook Hindi web link was still not working.

Outlook Amit Shah Affidavit

The actual affidavits of Shah and the others have not yet been uploaded on the website of the chief electoral officer, Gujarat, as is the normal practice.

Official wrath

The Wire has also learned that TOI decided to delete its tweets and Facebook posts alerting readers to another story involving Smriti Irani: ‘PIL accuses Smriti Irani of fraud in MPLAD funds’. Irani is believed to have objected to the story, which appeared on July 27, 2017.

Last week, the Hindustan Times took down an opinion piece published on its website by one of its highly-regarded columnists, Sushil Aaron. The article, which was sharply critical of the effect the Modi government has had on India’s ability to deal with pressure from China, was restored after a social media backlash. A query from The Wire to the newspaper’s owner-editor, Shobhana Bhartia, on the day the article was deleted went unanswered.

Note: As this is a developing story, updates in terms of responses from the editors or publishers of Outlook, TOI and DNA will be added when they become available. Since the Outlook Hindi link still opens on mobile phones and there is ambiguity about whether it has been pulled, this article’s original headline, which said Outlook had also deleted the  story, has been suitably edited. 

Note: Outlook Hindi is published by the Outlook group but the editor of Outlook magazine is not responsible for its content

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Really, who needs good ol’ Doordarshan anymore, when there’s TOI, ET, HT, Times Now and other mainstream media outlets to fly the government propaganda flag, suppress dissent and pull down critical reportage like the ones described in this article!

    • Anjan Basu

      In fact, some of DD’s many broadcasting channels seem to be doing a pretty decent job of it when it comes to current affairs analyses and panel discussions. Maybe their wings will also be clipped quite soon — signs of the state reclaiming its ‘rightful’ strangle-hold are, indeed, in evidence already — but, for now, a Rajya Sabha TV presentation on, say, Kashmir or the scourge of social vigilantism is infinitely more nuanced and poised than what the proud, private sector standard-bearers of the freedom of the press dish out day in and day out. Maybe all this will change irretrievably once Venkaiah Naidu replaces Hamid Ansari.

  • K SHESHU BABU

    When there are plans of ‘ vanishing ‘ Nehru’ from ‘ history ‘ itself, this may not be a very significant item worthy of discussion …

  • alok asthana

    ‘ Dard ka haad se guzarna hai dawa ho jaana ( Excess of pain becomes a sedative/medicine). About BJP and its excesses, we have become pretty numb. May they rot in hell!

  • Amitabha Basu

    The past and present political crimes of Amit Shah outweigh his monetary misdemeanours, which are of course not insignificant by any means. Nevertheless, any adverse news about these political heavyweights is censored by the fawning media houses.

    • edsa0601

      But what is the Parliament doing? Don’t they ask questions there?

  • The Wire

    The link you have given is to the e-paper, which is, by definition, a facsimilie of the printed version.

  • Anjan Basu

    You are one hundred per cent right. We need many more truly independent media platforms like The Wire who can speak the truth to powers that be. One little point, though. Do you really believe that Modi is convinced he is developing India, as you say? For the likes of our Prime Minister, is there really any serious consideration/ belief/ commitment other than those of the cynical calculus of realpolitik? He will of course have to blow the GST trumpet much as he did in respect of that other scandalous mis-adventure, demonetisation. That does not mean he sincerely believes what he says.

  • The Wire

    The controversy is not the value of his property but the mysterious deletion of stories in the media about them.

  • The Wire

    Dear Subhasis – I don’t see a pending comment from you for this article. Please repost, thanks.

  • Anjan Basu

    The Times Group’s favourite vanishing trick was on display again yesterday as TOI took down a report critical of the BJP govt of Rajasthan (as well as the centre). Sadly for them, though, it is hard to pull off such tricks today. Cursed technology! Wasn’t ancient Bharat with its bullock cart far better than the IT-laden India where you cannot hide your footprints satisfactorily, try however hard you may?