India Freedom of Speech
Senior, respected Indian journalist faces arrest thanks to Adani
Jan 20, 2021
Respected journalist, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, faces arrest due to a Gujarat court's response to an Adani defamation case

Adani’s moves to silence critics intensify

In a further exhibition of political and legal power, multi-billionaire Gautam Adani has secured a warrant for the arrest of one of India’s most renowned and respected journalists, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. It follows a series of other attempts to silence critics, including court actions against climate campaigner Ben Pennings and an Indian YouTuber; a request to the Indian Government to close down an anti-Adani twitterstorm; and an apparent attempt to close down the AdaniWatch website.

A court in Adani’s home state of Gujarat has issued the warrant which arises from a defamation case mounted by Adani against Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, the doyen of investigative journalists in India. The story has been covered in India by NewsClick, Scroll and the Business Standard.

The Adani Group had filed the defamation suit following his June 2017 article on a ‘Rupees 500 crore bonanza’ ($100 million) the group got from the government. The story was originally published in, and then withdrawn from, the Economic and Political Weekly. The story remains published in The Wire.

‘This is a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) writ aimed at both silencing the journalist and sending a shiver of fear through the media to halt any genuine investigation into Adani’s commercial empire,’ Bob Brown said. SLAPP writs are banned in many states of the USA and in the Australian Capital Territory.

This latest attack on free speech by Adani follows Adani’s lawsuits against climate campaigner Ben Pennings and an Indian YouTuber. In yet another attempt to silence critics, the Adani Group wrote to India’s central government in December 2020 seeking a crackdown of the ‘utmost severity’ on the supposed instigators of a Twitterstorm critical of Adani.

The arrest warrant comes not long after the Bob Brown Foundation received a threat to close down its AdaniWatch website following a complaint to the registrar of its domain name by an IT security firm, presumably acting on behalf of an unnamed client (emails sent to BBF on 7 and 9 January – see below).

AdaniWatch coordinator Geoff Law said that Adani is clearly spooked by the wave of protest against the group’s activities in India, where communities are opposing pro-corporate farm laws, moves to turn Goa into a coal hub, massive new port developments, and the takeover of indigenous lands for coal plants.

Further information: Geoff Law 0409 944891

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Email from Crazy Domains to Bob Brown Foundation of 7, 9 January 2020

9 January 2020.

Hi Bob,

Hope you are doing well.

I am Benedict P, the Domain Specialist assigned on this matter.

This is in relation to the notification sent last , regarding your domain name/s involved in an ALLEGED ILLEGAL activity. You have been given 48 hours to rectify the case and we never heard anything from you.

As such, this ticket will be closed automatically and the domain name/s involved will be suspended the next day due to policy breach.

Otherwise, you may respond to this correspondence the soonest possible time so you will be assisted accordingly.

Your cooperation is highly encouraged.

Note: This is an automatic notification from the Domains Department.

Regards,
Domains Team

Benedict P (Customer Care)

7 Jan 2021, 11:33 am AWST

Hi Steven,

Please be advised that we have received notification from Shane of iZOOlogic that your domain name, adaniwatch.org, has allegedly been involved in illegal activity.

The offending domain names have been identified that this website is not officially recognized and that it is being used to falsely represent the official one. Hence, this is causing severe reputation damage for Adani, and its continued existence is a critical threat to partners, clients, and all other parties involving Adani.  

The alleged illegal activity is as follows:

Screenshot of AdaniWatch website, 7 January 2021

As your domain provider, it is our responsibility to notify you with regard to this matter.

Moreover, please take this email as a notification only and that we do not have the sole discretion to further assist you with the suspension of it as we are not the listed hosting provider of this domain name. Also, we have informed the complainant and have referred them to your hosting provider to be assisted accordingly with this matter.

Should you have any concerns or questions regarding the above, please let us know.

Regards,
Benedict P

Crazy Domains
Domain Specialist