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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami sent to 14-day judicial custody in 2018 suicide abetment case

Arnab Goswami 2018 suicide abetment case: Arnab Goswami said he was physically assaulted by the cops. Visuals flashed on Republic TV showed Goswami being forced into a police van.

By: Express Web Desk | Mumbai | Updated: November 4, 2020 11:31:09 pm
Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami after his arrest, at Alibaug in Raigad on Wednesday. (Express photo: Narendra Vaskar)

Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami was arrested by Raigad police on Wednesday in connection with abetment to suicide case filed against him and two others in 2018. During hearing at a court in Alibaug, Goswami said he was assaulted by police and sustained injuries on his hand and back.

Later in the day, a Raigad court sent the three to judicial custody for 14 days. All three have moved bail pleas.

The magistrate instructed police to take him to a civil surgeon and produce him again following a second medical examination. Earlier in the day, visuals flashed on Republic TV showed Goswami being forced into a police van. Later, a fresh FIR was registered by Mumbai Police against Goswami, his wife, son and two others for allegedly assaulting a woman police official during his arrest.

In 2018, an architect and his mother died by suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami’s Republic TV, a police official said.

In a release, RepublicTV said “Arnab Goswami’s arrest in the related suicide case has been made as part of a larger vindictive exercise against an independent journalist and an independent news organisation.” The release said the “Anvay Naik suicide case was investigated and closed by a court of law after a closure report by the police noted that no case was made out in April 2019.”

“The very fact that the open physical assault on Arnab, his family and on team Republic was caught on tape and beamed across the world this morning in a closed case is proof of the desperation with which the Mumbai Police and Maharashtra Government is operating,” it added.

Home Minister Amit Shah said the incident is a reminder of the “emergency days.” Union Minister for Information and Broadcast Prakash 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.” “Those in the free press who don’t stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism,” Union Minister Smriti Irani tweeted. External Affairs Minister also said the incident has “shades of democracy.” Former Maharashtra Chief Minister tweeted, “Although emergency was defeated in 1977, the mentality is still alive Today, the supporters of emergency-Congress and Shivsena are displaying the same undemocratic brutality to crush any voice of dissent.”

Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik said the party has always stood up every time injustice has been meted out to a Marathi man. “Arnab Goswami’s name is in the suicide note of Anvay Naik, a Marathi architect. In spite of his name being in the FIR, the previous BJP government has let him go. I would like to congratulate the home minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ensuring that Naik’s family gets justice,” he said. Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik termed “Arnab Goswami’s arrest as Part 2 of India’s Most Wanted” and recalled the action against a TV crime show anchor who was charged with killing his wife.

In a statement, the Editors Guild of India said it is “shocked to learn about the arrest of Arnab Goswami” in the early hours of Wednesday.”We condemn the sudden arrest and find it extremely distressing. The Guild calls upon the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to ensure that Goswami is treated fairly and state power is not used against critical reporting by the media.”

Avnay Naik’s family said they are “happy with Goswami’s arrest.” “We were asked to sign on a statement saying we want to take the complaint against Arnab back. When we said this is not what we want & tried to take a photograph of the statement, officer Varde quickly took the note away from us. We informed the Raigad SP about the mischief,” the family said. “Arnab Goswami kept saying arrests should be made in 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?” his wife said.

Arnab Goswami at his residence in Mumbai (Source: Screengrab from Republic TV)

In May this year, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the state CID will re re-investigate the case. The case was closed by the Raigad Police last year. Interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik were found dead at their bungalow in Alibaug in May 2018. Naik’s daughter Adnya claimed non-payment of dues by Republic TV had driven her father and grandmother to suicide.

The police had found a suicide not written in English that said he and his mother decided to take the extreme step on account of payments due to them not being cleared by the owners of three companies – television journalist Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks. The three firms owed Naik’s company, Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd, Rs 83 lakh, Rs 4 crore and Rs 55 lakh respectively, the note added.

While the Home Department had transferred the case to CID in May this year, officers outside Arnab’s residence said that the very court where the Raigad police had filed a closure report has given permission to Raigad police to reopen the case. CID officials said they have no case against Goswami.

Republic TV had refuted the allegations and had then said that certain vested interest groups are running a false and malicious campaign and making false statements and innuendos against the channel by exploiting a tragic event involving Naik’s demise.

Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami steps out after hearing from Alibaug court. Alibaug police picked up Goswami from his residence in Mumbai (Express photo by Narendra Vasker)

Last week, the Mumbai Police had booked the executive editor, an anchor, two reporters, and other editorial staff of Republic Media Network for broadcasting alleged defamatory news content against the police department. Police said Republic channel aired the news that would incite disaffection among police personnel against Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh. The channel, police said, claimed Mumbai police personnel were rebelling against Param Bir Singh, and that his orders were not acceptable to them.

This is the fourth case against Republic channel. Arnab Goswami is facing two FIRs, registered at Pydhonie and NM Joshi Marg police stations, for allegedly inciting communal tension. A case relating to alleged fudging of TRPs is being probed by the Mumbai Crime Branch while chapter proceedings against Goswami have been initiated separately by police.

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