ARNAB GOSWAMI ARRESTED, SENT TO JUDICIAL CUSTODY FOR TWO WEEKS - The Daily Guardian
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ARNAB GOSWAMI ARRESTED, SENT TO JUDICIAL CUSTODY FOR TWO WEEKS

Preeti Sompura

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Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami

Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly abetting the suicide of 53-year-old interior designer, Anvay Naik, in 2018, and sent to a judicial custody for two weeks. This comes after investigations were reopened for the two-year-old case recently.

The manner in which the anchor was arrested was criticised by many, including several Union ministers who called it a reminder of the “Emergency era” when the Indira Gandhi government had unleashed a crackdown on the press.

A team of Alibaug police picked up Goswami from his Lower Parel house in Wednesday morning, arresting him under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 34 (acts done by persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. “This (arrest) pertains to the 2018 case of a man and his mother committing suicide. We have evidence (against Goswami),” a police official said.

The late interior designer, Anvay Naik, had reportedly named Goswami and two others, Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda, in a suicide note, accusing Republic TV of not paying him his dues after he designed the channel’s set-up. According to the note, Goswami owed him Rs 83 lakh for a Bom-

bay Dyeing studio project, Shaikh owed Rs 4 crore for the Laxmi 3rd and 4th floor Idea Square project in Andheri, and Sarda owed him Rs 55 lakh for Magarpatta and Baner projects. Shaikh and Sharda were also arrested.

After his arrest, Goswami was produced before a magistrate court in Alibaug where he complained of physical assault at the hands of the police team that had come to his house. Goswami›s lawyer, Gaurav Parkar, also alleged injuries caused to the Republic TV journalist. The court directed the police to take him to the civil hospital for medical check-up.

A fresh FIR against Goswami, his wife, his son and two others was also registered at N.M. Joshi Marg Police Station by Raigad police officials. According to the FIR, the five accused obstructed police officials while they were serving their duty. The FIR noted that they misbehaved with the Raigad police and even pushed and manhandled them. A case has been registered under Section 353 of the IPC.

Reacting sharply to the arrest, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called it a “blatant misuse of state power”. “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,” he tweeted.

Likewise, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar saw “shades of the Emergency” in the police action. “The arrest of Arnab Goswami is an attack on the freedom of press. Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up!”

“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,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Several media bodies and editors also condemned the arrest.

The Editors› Guild of India expressed shock at the incident, saying: “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 News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), the largest federation of news channels in India, too expressed its anguish over the arrest of Goswami. It called upon the Government of India and the Maharashtra government to follow the due process of law and ensure fair treatment to Goswami.

“The early morning arrest of Arnab Goswami by the Mumbai police is shocking and is a direct attack on the fourth pillar of democracy. This is sheer disrespectful, fascist and anarchist action against the freedom of expression and the press in the history of the country,” said R. Jai Krishna, Secretary-General, News Broadcasters Federation. 

Kartikeya Sharma, founder of ITV Network and Vice President of NBF, too condemned the police move. “The sudden arrest of Arnab Goswami is condemnable. The entire media fraternity should come together to stand against such actions against freedom of the press,” he said.

Responding to the issue, however the 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 Congress, a partner in the state›s ruling coalition, accused the BJP of “selective outrage”.

In May this year, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced a fresh probe into the case after a fresh complaint by Adnya Naik. Deshmukh said that Adnya had alleged that the investigation had been “suppressed only because of Arnab Goswami”.

The arrest comes in the wake of Goswami›s row with Mumbai Police over its investigations into an alleged TRP scam. The journalist 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.

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