Social Media Buzz

Nirav Modi has escaped India but not its cartoonists

The alleged fraud by the jeweler has inspired an outpouring of enraged humour.

Nirav Modi has become the latest Indian scamster to escape from the country before he could be booked for his crimes.

Earlier this week, a firm controlled by jeweler Nirav Modi was alleged to have illegally obtained loans amounting to perhaps Rs 11,300 crore from the foreign branches of several Indian banks, ostensibly to pay the suppliers of the raw materials needed to run his jewelry house.

Modi managed to do this by procuring Letters of Undertakings from Punjab National Bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai. Modi used these LoUs to obtain loans in foreign exchange without paying any margin money, as is the standard procedure.

When the Punjab National Bank filed a criminal complaint against Nirav Modi for engaging in fraudulent transactions on January 29, it was discovered that Nirav Modi had already left India some time before. By fleeing, Nirav Modi joins the ranks of other Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi who had also fled India before they could be detained for fraud.

The irony and the injustice of Modi managing to obtain over Rs 11,300 crore for his businesses illegally from banks while regular customers have to run from pillar to post to secure the correct Know Your Customer documents to conduct financial transactions did not escape social media commentators.

By Friday, social media was abuzz with angry quips and jokes about the diamond merchant alleged fraud, followed by his escape.

Here’s how some cartoonists saw the situation.

Meanwhile, both the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party traded barbs, blaming each other for the Nirav Modi scandal. Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that the National Democratic Alliance government chose to turn a blind eye while Nirav Modi took advantage of his “clout” and slipped out of India like Mallya. The Congress also released a picture of Nirav Modi alongside the business delegation accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Davos at the World Economic Forum meet held last month.

In response, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP claimed that Nirav Modi had begun defrauding the banks in 2011 when the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power at the centre. The first information report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, however, says that most of the loans were issued or renewed in 2017-’18.

A few cartoonists took a dig at the ruling government’s regular approach to blame its predecessors for the country’s current troubles.

One cartoonist found a way to link the Nirav Modi scandal with the recent Priya Prakash Varrier phenomenon, making refereces to the Malayalam film actress whose wink in a move promo captured the nation’s imagination last week.

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