With reference to the news item published in the New Delhi edition(page 12) of your esteemed newspaper on 17th of January 2020 regarding Hilal Rather being taken into custody for further questioning by the ACB Jammu we would like to submit that it is very disappointing to see the manner in which the matter has been reported. It goes against the very basic fundamental objectives of journalism, i.e. ‘to serve the people with news and information in a fair, accurate, unbiased and decent manner.’ The author of the report has completely abandoned his journalistic principles and ethics and has gone completely overboard in making wild accusations which have no basis in reality and are defamatory and libelous in nature. Therefore, we choose to counter the false narrative of the report and set the context right. The default in repayment of the so called Rs.177.00 crore liability of J&K bank has been referred to as a Scam which is yet to be established by the investigating agencies and the charges are yet to be proved in a court of law. Further a sensational claim is made that Hilal has acquired an eight bedroom villa in Palm Jumerah, Dubai in the neighborhood of famous celebrities by diverting the loan funds received from the bank. No such property exists and in our humble opinion it is a figment of the creative imagination of the author to add spice to his story and capture a few more eyeballs. Still, we would like to believe that the author of the report is in possession of some credible information regarding the existence of such a property based on which he has made such tall claims and it is incumbent upon him to make the details public as the value of the alleged property would be far more than the total loan amount taken from J&K Bank and it can be used by the agencies/bank/Govt. to dispose it off and make public money good. Not only the above but we also exhort you to kindly make public the details of all the stakes and assets created by Hilal in Power, Telecom and all other sectors that the author of the report must be in possession of, so that, even those can be utilized to settle all outstanding dues and claims against his company and Paradise Avenue. Once again we would like to categorically put on record that the whole issue of the Loan Amount of Rupees of Rs.177 crore has to be understood in the right perspective. The principal component of the loan primarily for construction of the project was only around Rs.128 crore, rest being interest component and anyone with some idea of construction costs in Prefabricated Steel Structures can vouch that more money has been spent on the project than has been drawn from the bank, something which can be easily corroborated through a valuation of the constructed project by independent experts. It has been claimed that all the loans have been sanctioned to Hilal and Paradise Avenue, where he is only one of the five partners, in violation of credit policies of the bank only because he happens to be the son of Abdul Rahim Rather, senior National Conference leader and former finance minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir. If that is the case then it needs to be answered that why did the bank support the project through further financial assistance to Paradise Avenue in 2015 and 2016 when an adverse political dispensation was in power and the bank authorities were not under any so-called influence or pressure to oblige. An attempt has been made to project Hilal as a petty criminal evading the law of the land by claiming that he was ‘picked from Jammu’ when the fact of the matter is he has been fully co-operating with the agencies since June 2019, despite undergoing two major surgeries in the past three months and even on the day of the arrest he had himself gone to the office of Anti Corruption Bureau to participate in the investigations where he was informed that he is being taken into custody to which he as a law abiding citizen complied with and is seeking due legal remedy. The news report clearly mentions that there were five partners in Paradise Avenue and has been quick to link the granting of loans to Abdul Rahim Rather clearly alleging political influence and pressure, but it has completely failed in overlooking a telling fact that why only one of the partners of Paradise Avenue, Hilal, whose surname happens to be ‘Rather’ has been taken into custody. Times of India has been the torch bearer of responsible journalism in the country and we hold your publication in high esteem and regard, and request you to take necessary action in the matter by publishing our rebuttal to the disparaging and biased report published in your newspaper so that we can remedy the damage done to our name and reputation, else we shall be constrained to knock the doors of law to seek justice.
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