“The police forcibly shut off news cameras before barging into the residence of Mr Goswami and attacking and thrashing a reputed national TV news journalist. The police even went to levels of misbehaving with Mr Goswami’s elderly parents, in-laws and assaulting his son.”
– Complaint filed with NHRC
Is Arnab Goswami some dreaded criminal or a terrorist or even worse than them? Why did 70 police personnel armed with weapons went to his house? Is his son who is just a 20 years old young boy also a dreaded criminal or has he got links with Dawood Ibrahim that police beat him up badly as Arnab alleges? How on earth can police beat up his son or even Arnab himself or misbehave with his wife, his in-laws and parents?
Nothing on this planet can be as shameful as with what has happened so brutally, so badly, so brashly and so brazenly with Arnab Goswami! Why has Mumbai police treated such a senior and eminent journalist with an impeccable reputation who is none other than the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV – Arnab Goswami like a dreaded criminal? Is this the way to treat such a senior and eminent journalist with an impeccable reputation who is none other than the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV – Arnab Goswami like a dreaded criminal? If he has done some crime then also he has to be arrested in a humane manner and the police has no right to physically assault him or his family members!
Will it enhance India’s international image as a tolerant country in the world and give a boost to our reputation or will it tarnish our reputation all over? Will this boost the morale of Indian journalists to be fearless like Arnab or will it sag their spirits and demoralize them to a large extent? Why was Arnab roughed up by Mumbai police so horribly? Can it ever be justified under any circumstances?
Why was arrest warrant not issued in proper manner? Why police showed undue haste in arresting him? Why police did not even allow him to even wear his shoes properly? Is he a hard core dacoit or a robber or a terrorist or even worse than them? Could the arrest not have been made in a much more civilized manner after following all norms and procedure that are followed in effecting an arrest?
Why has Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission summoned the SP of Raigadh in Maharashtra on November 6 at 11:00 am in their office? It is because they have a lot of explaining to do on this horrible and unprofessional conduct of Mumbai police? Why should every human being no matter to which nation he/she belongs hang his/her head in shame to see what all happened with Arnab live on news channels?
No doubt, Republic TV of which Arnab Goswami is Editor-in-Chief has a valid point when it says that, “Republic Media Network stands strongly against Maharashtra government and Mumbai police’s transparent abuse of power, butchery of rule of law, murderous assault on the free press of a democratic India.” The horrifying manner in which Arnab was dragged, caught by his belt that he was wearing, even his hairs on head were not spared and worst of all even his young 20 year old son was not spared and so too were others not spared is most reprehensible and is an unforgivable offence!
It is a consolation to some extent that a majority of Union Ministers in Centre have spoken out strongly, swiftly and suavely in favour of Arnab and have condemned the brutal manner in which he was roughed up for which they must be commended! Hats off to Kirit Somaiya who did not fear Mumbai police and had the guts, gall and gumption to face them boldly while Arnab was being taken away even though he too was manhandled by the Mumbai police! He very commendably, correctly and courageously said that, “I am deeply saddened to see how a journalist was picked up and forcibly taken by the police. The women of his house, who are shooting a video inside their own house, how does the police have the right to stop them? I came to Alibag to see what was happening to Arnab Goswami, and when I was watching him from afar, but the police came and picked me up as well. The way Journalists are being jailed in Maharashtra, social media activists are being jailed. This indicates an emergency situation by Congress and Thackeray government.”
Even Union Law Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad himself described the arrest of Arnab as “seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome”. He minced no words in saying it bluntly that, “The arrest of senior journalist Arnab Goswami is seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome. We had fought for freedoms of Press as well while opposing the draconian Emergency of 1975”. He also said that, “While Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have attacked the Modi government “through motivated charges of attack on institutions” yet they are completely silent when their own government in Maharashtra is “blatantly suppressing freedom of Press”. It is a “textbook case of hypocrisy”. One can differ, one can debate and one can ask questions too. However arresting a journalist of the stature of Arnab Goswami by abuse of police power is something which we all need to condemn.”
To be sure, Amit Shah who is Union Home Minister minced no words to state upstraight that, “Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again. 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. This attack on free must be and WILL BE OPPOSED.” Another Union Minister Smriti Irani went to the extent of saying that, “If those in free press don’t stand up in support of him then they are 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?”
Going one step ahead, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too jumped in the fray and minced no words to state upfront that, “The treatment of senior journalist Arnab Goswami is a symbol of the totalitarian tendency to weaken the fourth pillar of democracy and suppress the tone of protest. The Congress should keep in mind the instances, including the Emergency, which show that the governments which oppress the press, suffer badly.”
While stating that an attack on the fourth estate without evidence shakes faith in good governance, a Delhi-based lawyer named Siddharth Nayak who is Managing Partner of Atharva Legal LLP has filed the complaint seeking to initiate action against the Mumbai Police and the Raigad Police. Advocate Siddharth Nayak states that Goswami was forcibly dragged by his hair into the police van before being arrested by Raigad police in Maharashtra. Even if police has to arrest someone who is as eminent as Arnab or even an ordinary person, it has to be done in a civilized and proper manner. What Mumbai police has done is most atrocious and must be strongly condemned!
Be it noted, the complaint by Advocate Siddharth alleges that the police should be held responsible for the “blatant and brazenly illegitimate action of arresting Goswami under Section 306 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 with regard to a suicide case registered and closed in 2018”. On May 5, 2018 architect and interior designer Anvay Naik was found hanging at his farm house in Alibaug, Maharashtra and in his suicide note Naik who was MD of Concord Designs had blamed Arnab, Feroz Shaikh of icastX/Skimedia and Nitiesh Sarda of Smartworks for not paying dues amounting to Rs 5.4 crore. Naik said ARG Outlier had not paid Rs 83 lakh for the Bombay Dyeing studio project. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has further been informed that no summons were served by the police before arresting Goswami and that he was also denied all legal or medical assistance “despite his injuries in the physical assault perpetrated by the Police”. How can such a brutal assault be ever justified by anyone on earth? Even a person accused of any offence is arrested in a civilized manner and no one is assaulted in the manner that Arnab has been assaulted!
While levelling allegations against the police officer leading the team that arrested Goswami, Advocate Siddharth Nayak states that Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Hindurao Waze is an “infamous ‘encounter specialist’ who holds the blighted disrepute of as many as 63 extra-judicial murders”. If this is really true, why is Waze still in police and not in jail? Why no action taken against Sachin Hindurao Waze himself?
Why when the Mumbai police had itself investigated and closed the suicide case lodged against Goswami back in 2018 and filed closure report in April 2019 and had stated in a court of law that no case was made out was he suddenly arrested so horribly and in utter violation of all rules and norms? Why was his son assaulted and beaten? Why were his parents, in-laws and other members of his family assaulted?
As no case was being made out against Arnab, the complainant – Advocate Siddharth states, as per news sources, the Maharashtra Police Director General “did not approve with the CID Chief on Mr Goswami’s arrest”. Therefore, it is alleged that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh met over the issue and the Superintendent of Police, Raigad was directly given orders from the CM’s office for Goswami’s arrest. The complaint goes on to state that, “Attack on the Fourth Estate without any evidence or verifiable facts, on the basis of closed case being reopened with the sole aim to make an unwarranted illegitimate arrest of Goswami is extremely shocking to the point that it shakes India’s belief in good governance and policing.” No doubt, the manner in which such a senior journalist of the stature of Arnab Goswami has been arrested is most reprehensible and has to be condemned most strongly!
What a terrible atrocity it is that when police went to arrest Arnab Goswami, he was not even allowed to wear his shoes and was dragged out like a dangerous dacoit or a terrorist or a professional killer or a dreaded gangster! This is just unbelievable! Even hard core criminals are not treated in the callous manner in which Arnab was treated for which there cannot be any justification on earth!
For the sake of argument, even if we accept that Arnab was guilty of some crime, then also to barge into his house with police numbering 70 to 80 carrying weapons and assault and beat not just him but also his son and other family members cannot be justified under any circumstances! The most horrible and disgraceful conduct of the Mumbai police is inexplicable and has certainly sullied its reputation in the eyes of the people!
It cannot be lightly dismissed that Arnab Goswami had highlighted the inept and questionable handling of Palghar sadhu lynching case of 2 sadhus by mob right in front of police and its dubious role in handling the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide/murder case in which former CM of Maharashtra – Narayan Rane and his son had raised questions directly on CM Uddhav Thackeray’s son – Aditya Thackeray! Why is it that this same Arnab was earlier attacked by goons just outside his house and in which he was rescued just in time? All this can be interpreted as a vicious move by ‘vested elements’ and ‘powerful coterie’ to deter him from speaking the blunt truth on these two key issues as also on several other issues also!
No one is saying that Arnab should not be prosecuted or punished for any offence which police alleges he has committed. But this does not confer an unfettered licence to Mumbai police to assault him, beat him, pull him by his belt and drag him by his hairs! He has an international reputation and he is not some thug or mafia but most unfortunately police has behaved with him most ruthlessly which is most despicable and condemnable!
Worst of all, even his son and family were not spared! This is really atrocious and those who are guilty of doing so must be made to face the strictest punishment! The dastardly arrest of Arnab could have been made in a more civilized manner and if this had been done, the criticism of Mumbai police actions would have been more muted! But most shamefully, the Mumbai police was found acutely wanting on this score also!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh