Mumbai: Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami was arrested by the Mumbai Police from his home over a 2018 ‘abetment to suicide’ charge early on Wednesday. Massive police presence was observed outside the journalist’s home here. He will be produced in a local court for the police to seek custody.
Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief and managing director of Republic TV, was booked in 2018 under charges of abetment to suicide after an interior decorator, 53, allegedly killed himself over non-payment of dues owed to him by the news channel. Goswami, and two others, are facing charges under Section 306 (abetting suicide) of the Indian Penal Code after police lodged a case on the basis of a complaint filed by the interior decorator’s wife.
Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said police can take action if they have evidence against anyone. Since the formation of Thackeray government, no action has been taken against anyone for revenge. “The law is followed in Maharashtra.”
Republic TV has slammed the move as ‘vendetta’. Goswami, while being taken away, claimed he was assaulted by police at his home.
The Editor’s Guild also said it found the sudden arrest of Goswami extremely distressing.
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement on the arrest of Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV. pic.twitter.com/gL3MstVlla— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) November 4, 2020
Home minister Amit Shah said that the instant was “blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy. It reminds us of the Emergency.”
Prakash Javadekar, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, 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.”
Smriti Irani, the Women and Child Development Minister, tweeted, “Those in the free press who don’t stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism. 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?”.
The 2018 ‘abetment to suicide’ case
The deceased, Anvay Naik, committed suicide at his bungalow in Raigad district, close to Mumbai. According to the police, Naik had left behind a suicide note naming three people – Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX and Nitesh Sarda of Smartworks. Naik’s wife, 48-year-old Akshata Naik, had told the cops that her husband was under financial stress after his dues were not paid by Republic TV. Naik was contracted to carry out interior designing work for the channel in 2016.
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As per the suicide note, Republic TV owed Rs 83 lakh to Naik. The wife of the deceased has also alleged that she had previously called the office of Goswami’s accountant, asking for the repayment of the said amount.
Republic TV had issued a statement dismissing all allegations and called it a “false and malicious campaign” being run by “vested interest groups” against the channel. The channel admitted that it had contracted Naik to carry out work for its office, but denied that it owed him any money. They further claimed that Republic TV had details of cheques to prove that the payment had already been made.