Arnab Goswami’s for abetment to suicide on Wednesday has drawn condemnation from several journalist associations in the country.
The Republic TV editor is named in a suicide note purportedly written by interior designer Anvay Naik, who was found dead along with his mother in their Mumbai flat in May 2018. The note claims that Anvay was owed over Rs 5 crore by Goswami and two other people who were refusing to pay, leaving him mired in financial problems. The police had closed the in 2019, only for Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh to revive it in March this year at the urging of Avnay’s daughter Adnya Naik, who claimed the police hadn’t investigated “non-payment of dues from Arnab Goswami’s Republic”.
Condemning Goswami’s arrest as “extremely distressing”, the Editors Guild of India urged the Maharashtra government to ensure that he “is treated fairly and state power is not used against critical reporting by the media”.
The News Broadcasters Association, an industry body representing around two dozen private broadcasters, condemned the manner in which Goswami was arrested. “NBA is dismayed by the manner in which he was arrested,” it said. “Even though the NBA does not agree with his type of journalism, we denounce retaliatory action, if any, by the authorities against a media editor. Media is not above the law but due process must be followed.”
The News Broadcasters Federation described the arrest as “shameful, shocking and cruel attack on the fourth pillar of democracy”. The NBF claims to represent over 75 national and regional TV news channels and is currently led by Goswami as the president.
The Indian Women’s Press Corps “unequivocally condemned” the “high-handed manner” of the news anchor’s arrest.
“The Maharashtra government must realise that the arbitrary nature of Mr Goswami's arrest not just violates the principle of liberty, but also seeks to tamp down principles of free speech and expression enshrined in our Constitution. The IWPC believes that the Maharashtra government's attack on the press is dangerous for the media and the people at large,” it said.
The Indian Federation of Working Journalists seemed to suggest that Goswami was arrested for “trenchantly criticizing” the state government and its police.
“This is the sheer misuse of state power against journalists, who have always volunteered to cooperate with any investigation of the police,” it said.
The federation appealed all journalists in the country to “sink their differences” and support Goswami and his team who have been “fiercely espousing nationalistic journalism and exposing those elements who have been dancing to the tunes of dons”.
The National Union of Journalists said Goswami’s arrest was a “clear violation of Supreme Court guidelines” as it was reportedly done without serving him a prior notice or a summons. “It appears to be an attempt to subdue and throttle the freedom of speech and expression by misuse of the police force by the Maharashtra government,” the union said, adding, “The misuse of police force to gag the media, the fourth estate of democracy, is highly dangerous.”
The Television Journalists Association, Maharashtra, noted that Goswami was arrested “in a case filed against him related to a personal matter”. “It isn't associated with his profession,” the association pointed out.
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