Union ministers and the Editors Guild of India condemned the arrest of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. Goswami was arrested by the Mumbai police on Wednesday morning in relation to an abetment of suicide case from 2018.
The Editors Guild of India condemned the “sudden arrest” of Goswami, calling 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.
Goswami was arrested from his residence in Mumbai on Wednesday for allegedly abetting suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer, a police official said.
The Guild, in a statement, said it was 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.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar described the arrest as an “attack on press freedom” in Maharashtra and said it was reminiscent of “Emergency days”.
In a series of tweets, the senior BJP leader also hit out at the Congress, saying its “fascist and Emergency mindset” is on display in Maharashtra.
Reacting to the development, 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.
“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 Minister Smriti Irani tweeted.
“The arrest of senior journalist Arnab Goswami is seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome. We had fought for freedoms of Press as well while opposing the draconian Emergency of 1975,” Law Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a series of tweets.
He said it was a “textbook case of hypocrisy.”
“One can differ, one can debate and one can ask questions too. However arresting a journalist of the stature of Arnab Goswami by abuse of police power, because he was asking questions, is something which we all need to condemn,” the Union minister said.
A team of Alibaug Police picked up Goswami from his residence in Mumbai. Goswami, who was seen being pushed into the police van, claimed that he was assaulted by police at his home, while being taken away.
In 2018, an architect and his mother committed suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami's Republic TV, a police official 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 was a brief scuffle.
While in the police van, Goswami was seen claiming that police assaulted him and his son and that 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.
The action taken by the MVA government in Maharashtra comes after Goswami’s Republic TV had targeted alleged government inaction in the Sushant Singh Rajput case.