In an 'unconditional apology' published on the front page, The Tribune has taken back all charges leveled against Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia and his involvement in an 'illegal drug syndicate'.
The apology is not a unanimous decision and has caused rift between the editorial desk and the Tribune Trust, which reportedly forced the hands of editor-in-chief Harish Khare to carry the apology.
The newspaper, however, steered clear of giving any explanation on why there were loopholes in earlier reports in the first place and the verification details it says has done to arrive at the conclusion that Majithia is not guilty.
In 2014, Majithia, who was Punjab's revenue minister was alleged to have links with a multi-crore drug trafficking racket after drug peddlerJagdish Singh Bhola confessed to political funding during elections and alleged Majithia's involvement.
The Tribune had then carried news reports covering the Enforcement Directorate probe on the same, which had put Majithia on the spot.
The Tribune has now apologised for reports published "with prominent headlines” on "25.11.2014 and 11.03.2015,” in a front page display on Saturday, even asserting that the claims were found to be false, vouching for his innocence. However, reports suggest the apology is not a unanimous decision and has caused rift between the editorial desk and the Tribune Trust.
It is to be noted that when the said reports against Majithia were published, the newspaper was helmed by Kanwar Sandhu under whose watch, there was an aggressive coverage of the Badals and the Akali leadership. Sandhu later went on to join the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Tribune's current editor-in-chief Harish Khare is reportedly miffed with the Tribune Trust for forcing the paper to apologise which seemed more like a news report titled 'No evidence of involvement of Bikram Singh Majithia in Drug Racket' sans a byline.
Khare had insisted that the apology gets published the same way it was received from the Trust to stay clear of any editorial involvement.