MAHARASHTRA BJP president Chandrakant Patil, along with party activists, on Wednesday held a dharna in Nagpur to protest the arrest of Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami in connection with an abetment to suicide case.
Patil is on a two-day tour of Nagpur and Amravati. The dharna was staged in front of the BJP office in the city’s Mahal area.
During the protest, he launched an attack on the police action, saying it was “reminiscent of Emergency”, when the media was gagged by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “Arnab was arrested like a criminal by gate-crashing into his house. The Maharashtra government shouldn’t forget that Indira Gandhi was later defeated by people in the elections,” Patil told mediapersons later in a press conference.
“Republic channel has been raising issues against the government and for the people. His arrest smacks of political motive and is an attack on the freedom of press,” Patil said, adding, “We will sport black caps or ribbons till Goswami is released.”
Refuting the allegation that the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led state government had tried to protect Goswami in the suicide case of interior designer Anvay Naik, who allegedly named Goswami and two others in his suicide note, Patil said, “If that was true, then why did the new government take so long to arrest him?”
On the appeal by Anvay Naik’s wife Akshata for justice for her husband and action against Goswami, Patil said, “There should be no injustice against anyone. But it shouldn’t be done as part of politics.”
Asked why the BJP didn’t protest against arrests of journalists in Uttar Pradesh, Patil said, “Some statements may have been issued (by the party) there.”
Patil also raised the issue of farm distress, claiming that farmers have been left in the lurch by the state government, and that of women’s safety. “The Congress talks about crime against women in UP but nothing about growing incidents in the state….,” he said.
On the issue of the central government claiming the ownership of a site in Kanjurmarg in Mumbai — chosen by the Uddhav Thackeray-led government to construct the Metro car shed — Patil said, “I will not go into whether the land belongs to the state or Centre. But it’s currently under litigation, with the son of a former MLA claiming to be the owner and the High Court granting stay on transfer of land. Legally, all salt pan land belong to the Centre but go to the state government if it remains unused by the former for long. But even the central government has claimed ownership. Thirdly, all salt pan lands take years to dry up and it’s environmentally damaging to use them for a purpose like the Metro car shed. If the Aarey site was rejected due to environmental reasons, then how come salt pan land was chosen as an alternative?”
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