Mumbai, Nov 4
Republic TV's Arnab Goswami was arrested today in a two-year-old suicide case in which investigations were reopened recently, the Mumbai police said. Several Union Ministers are among those who have condemned the arrest as a reminder of the Emergency, when the Indira Gandhi Government cracked down on the media.
"Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again. Blatant misuse of State power against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy. It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and WILL BE OPPOSED," tweeted Home Minister Amit Shah as reports emerged of Arnab Goswami's arrest.
"We condemn the attack on press freedom in Maharashtra. This is not the way to treat the Press. This reminds us of the emergency days when the press was treated like this," posted Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again.
Blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV & Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy.
It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and WILL BE OPPOSED.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) November 4, 2020
We condemn the attack on press freedom in #Maharashtra. This is not the way to treat the Press. This reminds us of the emergency days when the press was treated like [email protected]
_ [email protected]
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) November 4, 2020
Mr Goswami alleged that he was manhandled and assaulted by the police at his Mumbai home before being pushed into their van. He showed injuries to his arm.
News agency ANI quoted him as saying that Mumbai Police "physically assaulted his mother-in-law and father-in-law, son and wife". In videos aired by Republic TV, policemen were seen holding him as they were attempting to take him away. The cops, however, charged him with assaulting a woman officer in a separate case.
The Republic Editor-in-Chief has been arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of a 53-year-old architect and interior designer, Anvay Naik, and his mother, in 2018.
The architect had reportedly named Mr Goswami in a suicide note and had accused Republic TV of not paying him his dues after he designed the channel's set-up.
The police closed the case two years ago, allegedly under pressure.
Two others named in the note, Feroz and Nitesh Sharda, were also arrested.
In May, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had announced that the suicide was being reinvestigated after a fresh complaint by Adnya Naik, the architect's daughter.
"Arnab kept saying arrests should be made in the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case where there was no suicide note. My husband left behind a suicide note naming Arnab and two others but no arrests were made. How is this fair," Anvay Naik's wife Akshata said to reporters.
"There were three names in the suicide note. My father spent money, energy and sweat blood on the project. Arnab Goswami ensured my husband did not get his dues. My dad mentioned Rs 83 lakh as dues in his suicide note," said her daughter Adnya.
The arrest comes in the middle of Mr Goswami's row with the Mumbai Police over its investigations into a ratings scam and allegations that Republic TV is among three channels involved in manipulating TRPs or Television Rating Points by bribing households metred for viewership. The Editor had accused the police of harassing his colleagues and pursuing a vendetta over his channel's criticism of Mumbai Police's handling of the Sushant Singh Rajput case.
Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena denied that the arrest was a vindictive move. "The law is followed in Maharashtra. Police can take action if they have evidence against anyone. Since the formation of the Uddhav Thackeray Government, no action has been taken against anyone for revenge," said senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
The early morning arrest fueled a deluge of posts on social media. Members of the ruling BJP, including Cabinet Ministers, alleged "fascism" by Maharashtra's Shiv Sena-led coalition.
"Shades of the Emergency ! The arrest of Arnab Goswami is an attack on the freedom of press. Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up!" - tweeted Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
Shades of the Emergency!
The arrest of Arnab Goswami is an attack on the freedom of press. Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up!
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) November 4, 2020
Those in the free press who don't stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism. You may not like him, you may not approve of him, you may despise his very existence but if you stay silent you support suppression. Who speaks if you are next ?
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) November 4, 2020
Arrest of Arnab Goswami is a move to throttle nationalist voice in media.Congress Emergency mindset is still there.#[email protected][email protected]
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) November 4, 2020
The Congress, a partner in the State's ruling coalition, accused the BJP of "selective outrage".
Several media bodies and Editors, including those who are critical of his brand of journalism, condemned the arrest.
Republic TV said in a statement: "Arnab Goswami's arrest has been made part of a larger vindictive exercise against an independent journalist and news network. This is to bring to light real facts on unfounded allegations in a closed case based on which Arnab Goswami was assaulted and arrested."
The Editors' Guild of India expressed shock. "We condemn the sudden arrest and find it extremely distressing. The guild calls upon Maharashtra to ensure that Goswami is treated fairly and State power is not used against critical reporting by the media," the top media body said in a statement.
Courtesy NDTV (With inputs from PTI and ANI)