In a Country Where Attacking Journalists Has Become the Norm, Should Arnab Goswami’s Arrest Surprise Us?

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In a Country Where Attacking Journalists Has Become the Norm, Should Arnab Goswami’s Arrest Surprise Us?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

All eyes are on Joe Biden versus Donald Trump. But in India, the Republic TV versus Maharashtra Government battle has reached another flashpoint. Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami has been arrested by the Mumbai Police for allegedly abetting the suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer. According to the official Twitter handle of Republic TV, Arnab was “assaulted by cops, taken by police in a van.”

Goswami has been arrested in a 2018 abetment to suicide case under Section 306 IPC, which has now been re-opened by the police, reported Republic TV. The case involves the death of an architect and his mother over alleged non-payment of dues by the news channel. 

According to a report on the Republic TV website, the Mumbai Police “barged into the residence of Arnab Goswami on Wednesday, physically assaulted him and put him in a police van, went in without any summons, documents or court papers.” “Over a dozen officers of the Mumbai Police reached Arnab’s residence in Mumbai’s Parel at 6:30 am and blocked all the entry and exit points soon after. It also blocked Republic Media Network’s Editors Niranjan Narayanswamy and Sanjay Pathak from entering Arnab’s residence.”

The Republic TV team is enroute Raigad police station, where Arnab Goswami is being allegedly taken by the police. “They beat my son,” Goswami said as he was rounded up in a police van. 

The arrest has been condemned on social media. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar stated that this was an attack on press freedom in Maharashtra. “This reminds us of the emergency days when the press was treated like this,” he tweeted.

Union Minister Smriti Irani invoked the F-word, 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?” she asked.

Other BJP leaders also were quick to show their support to Goswami.

Actress Kangana Ranaut, who has frequently appeared on the channel recently, said through a video message on Twitter. “Kitne ghar todenge? Kitne gale dabayenge? Kitni awaazein bandh karenge aap? Ek awaaz bandh karenge to bahot saari aur uth jaayengi” she says in the video.

Veteran journalist Vikram Chandra stated that individual rights should be sacrosanct in democracy and should apply irrespective of who the individual is and the party in power.

Other media persons joined in and condemned the arrest. 

The tussle between the Mumbai Police and Arnab Goswami started after the TV anchor personally targeted Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and the state government for their investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide and Palghar lynching case. Since then, the Mumbai Police had named Republic TV in a press conference relating to a TRP scam. This latest development in the ongoing saga has taken away attention even from the US elections – even if for a few minutes.

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