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WSJ: How Nitin Mangal Was Made To Suffer For Writing That Negative Story on IndiaBulls

The Wall Street Journal has released a detailed report of how Indiabulls apparently intimidated a research analyst, Nitin Mangal, who had been arrested last year. Nitin has co-authored a report on the powerful Indiabulls group, which questioned the practices of the companies and said something to the effect that the promoters are likely to be siphoning money out of the company.

On Nov. 18, 2014, Mr. Mangal says, a group of police officers showed up at his home in the central Indian city of Indore, where he had moved from Mumbai when police began investigating him two years earlier. The officers said they wanted to question him, he says. (Mr. Mangal wasn’t home at the time, but his family described the visit to him.)

A week later, on Nov. 25, Mr. Mangal turned himself in to a magistrate 500 miles away in Gurgaon, the New Delhi suburb where one complaint against him had been filed by police and Indiabulls. After a night in a holding cell, Mr. Mangal said, he was put into a white Toyota minivan.

With him were four Gurgaon police officers and Ajay Grewal, an attorney for Indiabulls.

Mr. Mangal told the Journal, “I was basically in the custody of Indiabulls.” During the journey, Mr. Mangal told the Journal, police and Mr. Grewal talked to him at length about the power and influence of Indiabulls. Mr. Mangal says the goal appeared to be to persuade him to cooperate with Indiabulls.

Mr. Grewal and the police say such conversations didn’t take place. Mr. Mangal decided to be accommodating and congenial, helping the group with directions on the routes, which he frequently drove, hoping cozying up would reduce the likelihood they would harm him, he says.

Police say the trip was part of an effort to gather evidence. Krishan Kumar, a Gurgaon police officer on the trip, said police took Mr. Mangal with them so he could to help them find his office, among other reasons. Mr. Kumar said police chained Mr. Mangal to his hotel-room bed one night so he couldn’t escape.

Obviously everyone attempts to deny everything that happened here, from the police side and the Indiabulls side.

The Wall Street Journal itself was subject to a lawsuit that attempted to prevent them from publishing this document.

In April, the Delhi High Court granted Indiabulls an injunction against Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, restraining it from publishing an article on Mr. Mangal’s research report. The injunction came after the Journal had approached the company in April about the article and was granted on the grounds that, among other things, it was “likely to prejudice and hamper the course of investigation and judicial process.” The Journal fought the injunction, and the bar on publication was lifted Monday.

Our View: Must Defend Right To Free Speech

Defamation or libel is a matter for the court, but powerful people must not be allowed to subvert the system and use these laws to their advantage. At Capital Mind we have had innumerable phone calls, asking and even threatening us with consequences for writing against something or the other. I have even received an emailed legal notice that supposedly comes from Anil Ambani, but you never know who’s serious and who’s just playing around.

But intimidation of the sort that Nitin Mangal has to face are simply unacceptable. This is abhorrent behaviour on the part of the police. And to me it’s apparent that an Indiabulls lawyer accompanying cops on a multi-city chase to “gather information” is obviously intimidation – one hardly believes that Indiabulls is not involved. The right to free speech comes with the need to defend yourself from the abuse of power, especially in India. Earlier the tone of intimidation was used for stifling speech on religious or political grounds. But we’re starting to see it come to the financial world as well.

Disclosure: No positions in the stock and have no links with the company.

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