Condemning the arrest of Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami in a suicide abetment case, several journalists’ organisations appealed to the Maharashtra government to not “misuse state power for vendetta” and follow “due process”.
In a statement, the Editors Guild of India said it was shocked and asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to ensure that the state machinery is not used against critical journalism. “We condemn the sudden arrest and find it extremely distressing,” it said, adding that it “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”.
The self-regulatory body of television news channels, the News Broadcasters Association, said that though the media is not above the law, due process needs to be followed. It condemned “the manner” in which Goswami “was arrested by the Raigarh Police”. It stated that “according to the police, Goswami was arrested in a 2018 abetment to suicide case”. “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. Media is not above the law but due process must be followed.”
The NBA also appealed to the Maharashtra Chief Minister “to ensure that Goswami is treated fairly and state power is not misused for vendetta”.
Another association of news broadcasters, founded by Goswami and including several regional players, the News Broadcasters Federation also expressed shock at Goswami’s arrest “by resurrecting a two-year-old closed case”. It called upon the Centre and Maharashtra government to “follow the due process of law and ensure fair treatment” to Goswami.
Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) said it “unequivocally condemns the high-handed manner in which the Maharashtra Police” arrested Goswami “ostensibly in a 2018 abetment to suicide case”.
Goswami, IWPC said, “had been cooperating with the police and going to the police station each time he was summoned” and the state government’s “ use of its police force reeks of cynical and self-serving vendetta”.
The Maharashtra government, it said, “must realise that the arbitrary nature” of 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,” and stated that it believes “that the Maharashtra government’s attack on the press is dangerous for the media and the people at large”.
The National Union of Journalists called it an “illegal arrest of noted journalist” and said that it “appears an attempt to subdue and throttle the freedom of speech and expression by misuse of the police force by the Maharashtra Government” and said that the “misuse of the police force to gag the media, the fourth estate of democracy, is highly dangerous”.