- Arnab Goswami was arrested today in a two-year-old suicide case
- The investigations were reopened recently in the case
- Several Union Ministers are among those who condemned the arrest
Republic TV's Arnab Goswami was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the suicides of an architect and his mother in 2018, a case that was reopened recently on the family's request.
The Republic promoter and Editor-in-Chief has been charged with abetment of suicide. Anvay Naik, a 53-year-old architect and interior designer, had named Mr Goswami in a suicide note and had accused Republic TV of not paying him his dues after he designed the channel's interiors.
The police closed the case two years ago, allegedly under pressure. Two others named in the note, Feroz and Nitesh Sharda, were also arrested.
Mr Goswami alleged that he was manhandled and assaulted by the police at his Mumbai home before being pushed into their van, a charge that the cops denied.
A 13-minute video shot during the arrest shows policemen pleading with the editor to cooperate as he says he has been assaulted.
Eventually the policemen drag him away.
News agency ANI quoted Mr Goswami as saying that Mumbai Police "physically assaulted his mother-in-law and father-in-law, son and wife".
The police, however, charged him with assaulting a woman officer. He was sent to 14 days of judicial custody later by a court that rejected his allegation of assault by cops.
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 ₹ 83 lakhs as dues in his suicide note," said her daughter Adnya.
The family alleged that they had been threatened and warned against going to the police. They also said the case was closed two years ago - when a BJP-led government was in power - as Mr Goswami used his influence to pressure the police.
Several BJP leaders and Union Ministers condemned Mr Goswami's arrest as a reminder of the Emergency.
"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.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) November 4, 2020
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.
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.@PIB_India@DDNewslive@republic— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) November 4, 2020
Shades of the Emergency!— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) November 4, 2020
The arrest of Arnab Goswami is an attack on the freedom of press. Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up!
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
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."
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 Congress, a partner in the state's ruling coalition, accused the BJP of "selective outrage" and not reacting to instances of journalists slapped with sedition cases for stories critical of the government.
Several media bodies and editors condemned the arrest while asserting that they did not endorse Mr Goswami's brand of journalism.
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.
The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) said in a statement: "The NBA is dismayed in the manner in which he was arrested. Even though NBA does not agree with his type of journalism, we denounce retaliatory action, if any by the authorities against a media editor."
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)