Mumbai- Police on Wednesday arrested Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami here for allegedly abetting suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer in 2018, a police official said.
The official said a team of Alibaug police picked up Goswami from his Lower Parel house in the morning. Goswami, who was seen being pushed into the police van, claimed he was assaulted by police at his home, before being taken away.
In 2018, the architect and his mother committed suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Republic TV, police said.
In May this year, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced he has ordered a fresh probe in the case after a complaint by Adnya Naik, daughter of the architect Anvay Naik.
Deshmukh said Adnya alleged that the Alibaug police had not investigated the alleged non-payment of dues from Goswami’s channel, which she claimed drove her father and grandmother to suicide in May 2018.
Police said Goswami was taken to Alibaug in Raigad district in connection with the suicide case.
In a viral video, police personnel who entered Goswami’s home are seen asking him if he is coming along with them peacefully, following which there is a brief scuffle.
While in the police van, Goswami is seen claiming that police assaulted him and his son and he was also not allowed to meet his in-laws.
Police said that in a suicide note, Anvay Naik, who owned Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd, had claimed that he was ending his life due to non-payment of his dues Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks.
Police said that as per the note, the three firms owed Naiks company Rs 83 lakh, Rs four crore and Rs 55 lakh respectively.
Police said the two others named in the suicide note have also been arrested.
Responding to the claim on non-payment of dues, Republic TV had in a statement said the entire amount owed to Concorde had been paid.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders reacted strongly to the police action against Goswami.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah termed the arrest of Goswami as a “blatant misuse of state power” and said the “attack on free press must be and will be opposed”.
The home minister also slammed the opposition parties, saying Congress and its allies have “shamed democracy” and that the incident “reminds us of Emergency”.
In a tweet, Shah said, “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,” he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar described it as “an attack on press freedom” in Maharashtra and said it reminded of the “Emergency days”.
Javadekar tweeted, “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,” he said.
Union minister Smriti Irani condemned Goswami’s arrest, saying if those in free press don’t stand up in support of him then they are tactically in support of fascism.
Irani, the Women and Child Development Minister, tweeted, “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?”.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described the senior journalist’s arrest as “seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome.”
He also questioned the silence of the Congress leadership when its government in Maharashtra was “blatantly suppressing freedom of press.”
“The arrest of senior journalistArnab Goswami is seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome. We had fought for freedoms of Press as well while opposing the draconian Emergency of 1975,” Prasad said in a series of tweets.
Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India also condemned the “sudden arrest” of Goswami and called upon Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to ensure that he is treated fairly and state power is not used against critical reporting by the media.
The Guild, in a statement, said it is shocked to learn about the arrest of Goswami.
Noting that Goswami was arrested from his Mumbai residence on reportedly an abetment to suicide case, the Guild said, “We condemn the sudden arrest and find it extremely distressing.”
The Guild called upon the Maharashtra chief minister to ensure that Goswami is treated fairly and state power is not used against critical reporting by the media.
Congress Shreds BJP Over ‘Selective Outrage’
Hitting out at the BJP over its criticism of Arnab Goswami’s arrest in Mumbai, the Congress today said its “selective outrage” on press freedom is “shameful” and the law will take its own course in the case against the Republic TV editor-in-chief.Several Union ministers and senior BJP leaders have criticised the Congress over Arnab Goswami’s arrest and called it an “attack on freedom of press”. The Congress is part of the Shiv Sena-led coalition government in Maharashtra.
Asked about Arnab Goswami’s arrest and the BJP’s criticism of it, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said she was actually very shocked with the “selective outrage” of the BJP of the sections of the government.
Why are they silent when Prashant Kanojia is jailed for a number of months just because he exposed a scam where children were being served salt and chapati in Mirzapur?” the spokesperson asked, referring to the journalist who was arrested by the UP Police.
Addressing a media briefing, she raised several other questions.
Why, she asked, is the BJP “selectively silent” when sedition charges are slapped against journalists and when a case has been filed against (Scroll) journalist Supriya Sharma because she exposed the pathetic state of affairs in a village in Varanasi.
And when a reporter who exposed the PPE kit scam in Uttar Pradesh is jailed and faces serious sedition charges instead of action been taken against those responsible for the scam, she added.
“So this selective outrage is extremely unwarranted, is shameful and they (the BJP) should be ashamed of saying anything,” she told reporters.
Supriya Shrinate also hit out at Arnab Goswami, saying she herself had been a journalist for almost two decades and alleged that he had brought complete “disgrace and shame” to journalism.
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