The detention of Republic TV’s founder and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami by Mumbai Police on early Wednesday morning generated sharp reaction from a number of BJP leaders, including Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of states, with several of them mentioning the Emergency days to draw a parallel.
Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar condemned the incident and said that the move was reminiscent of the Emergency.
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.@PIB_India @DDNewslive @republic
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) November 4, 2020
Tweeting about the incident on Wednesday morning, Javadekar said, “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.”
Shades of the Emergency!
The arrest of Arnab Goswami is an attack on the freedom of press. Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up!
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) November 4, 2020
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also reacted to the incident and said in a tweet, “Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again. Blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV & Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy. It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and WILL BE OPPOSED.”
Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again.
Blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV & Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy.
It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and WILL BE OPPOSED.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) November 4, 2020
Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, who was the I&B Minister earlier, tweeted: “Those in the free press who don’t stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism”. She added: “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?”
BJP National President JP Nadda said in a tweet that the incident was another instance of Sonia and Rahul-directed antic of silencing those who disagree with them. “Every person who believes in a free press and freedom of expression is furious at the Maharashtra Government’s bullying and harassment of Arnab Goswami. This is yet another instance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi-directed antic of silencing those who disagree with them. Shameful!” he tweeted.
Every person who believes in a free press and freedom of expression is furious at the Maharashtra Government’s bullying and harassment of Arnab Goswami. This is yet another instance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi-directed antic of silencing those who disagree with them. Shameful!
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) November 4, 2020
Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, and Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal also tweeted in Goswami’s support and said, “Strongly condemn this attack on freedom of press in Maharashtra. This fascist move is a sign of undeclared emergency. Assaulting journalist #ArnabGoswami is an example of misuse of power. We must all stand up against this attack on India’s democracy.”
The detention also elicited reactions from BJP state leaders.
Manipur CM Biren Singh said the physical assaulted and arrest of Goswami by Mumbai Police “is an attack on press freedom” and said he strongly condemned “such politically motivated act of the #Maharashtra govt”.
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat called it an attack on the freedom of expression and speech and called it a “reminder of the Congress culture that reminds me of the days of Emergency” as he condemned “shutting down of the voice of honest journalists in democracy”.
A Black Day for Indian demoracy.
I strongly condemn the assault on senior journalist #ArnabGoswami by Mumbai police. Vendetta politics should be stopped and freedom of press should be maintained in Maharashtra by releasing Mr Goswami immediately.
— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) November 4, 2020
Poll-bound Bihar’s deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi called it a “move to throttle nationalist voice in media” and said, “Congress Emergency mindset is still there”.
Senior Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma called it “nothing but muzzling freedom of press by the vindictive” Maharashtra government, and condemned “strongly” this “shameless politically motivated Mumbai police action”.
BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi also tweeted in support of Goswami, saying “Signs of Fascism, identification of an enemy (Arnab Goswami) is the cause of unification thus right 2 freedom of expression can be forsaken& cause repression of mass media. But why are champions of human rights quite now, everyone’s human rights matter, even if you don’t agree!”
Lekhi, who is also a lawyer, also said in a democracy, governments are “run by established procedures those unaware of it please stay informed, law & order is a state subject, centre can’t intervene only courts can”.
Among the other leaders who reacted to the detention included senior RSS leader and National General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santosh said, that “this assault” on Republic and Goswami “is an assault on FOE” (Freedom of Expression) and added that “it’s nothing but MOBOCRACY at its worst by @INCIndia, MVA Govt & Mumbai Police Commissioner . They will have to answer to Nation for their sinful deed”.
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