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Prez Press Secy to Purie

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New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind’s Press Secretary has written to Aroon Purie, chairman and editor-in-chief of the India Today Group, describing the controversy over the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose portrait as a “rather shameful” and said that the episode has “caused deep distress and we are forced to review our engagements with the group.”

In a hard hitting letter to Poorie on January 27, Ajay Kumar Singh, Press Secretary to the President, said, “I am writing to you with reference to a needless and avoidable and rather shameful controversy in which a section of journalists, including some from the Indian Today Group, dragged the Rashtrapati Bhavan for motives not clear to us.”

He said, on January 23, the President unveiled a portrait of Bose at Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations.

“A section of journalists, including Rajdeep Sardesai, a prominent representative of India Today as well as many more from the group headed by you, reacted to this announcement on Twitter by alleging that the portrait was not that of Netaji but of actor Prosenjit Chatterjee,” Singh said.

The letter to Purie came after the matter went viral on Twitter and social media, with some people tweeting alleging that the “President unveiled the official portrait of actor Prasenjit Chatterjee (Bumbada) and not Netaji at the Rashtrapati Bhawan”.

The government has decided to observe January 23 as ‘Parakram Divas’ from now on every year. Bose was born in 1897.

Singh further said “the regrettable part is that senior journalists of your group did not bother to check the facts. Before making a serious claim like this, they could have checked with any member of Netaji’s family or with the actor himself (who set the record straight) as well as with Rashtrapati Bhavan itself.”

“They did not do any of the basic fact checks, and joined the ranks with those who were throwing wild accusations for political gains,” he said.

Singh said that in “gleefully ridiculing” this high Consitituinal office, they not only “discredited” their professional ethics but also “cast a shadow” on the office of the President of India. “You will agree that such irresponsible and juvenile behaviour compromises the dignity of the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” Singh said.

“That this was a momentory lapse of judgement or a forgivable slip of the pen was made amply apparent when the facts made themselves clear: These journalists merely deleted their tweets, or issued a clarification — without owing up their blunder, much less apologising for it.

“I believe this is unpardonable conduct, for the individuals involved as well as for the platform from which they seek to draw legitimacy,” he said.

“This episode has caused deep distress at Rashtrapati Bhavan, and we are forced to review our engagements with the India Today group,” Singh added.




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