Mumbai, Nov 4 (IANS) Even as the Maharashtra government defended the arrest of Republic TV Managing Director and Chief Editor Arnab Goswami here on Wednesday, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party organised vociferous protests across the state to condemn the action.
Shiv Sena leader and Transport Minister Anil Parab said that the BJP is worried as “their pet parrot, in whom many lives are trapped, is now in the cage,” while Sena MP and Spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that “if anybody has committed a crime, he would be punished”.
Targeting the BJP, Parab sought to know whether Goswami is “their party member” and asked why the BJP leaders did not protest when another journalist and former head of Tehelka news Tarun Tejpal was arrested a few years ago.
Party MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wondered if there is “any law or press freedom” wherein journalists are allowed exemption from payments of their dues, referring to the suicide of architect Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik on May 5, 2018 in Raigad over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami and others.
“What cases are applicable against defaulters who don’t pay up as per the terms agreed upon? What if non-payment of dues leads to the aggrieved party taking the extreme step of taking own life and in the suicide note mention their reason?” she asked.
Chaturvedi sought to know whether journalists are allowed ‘exemption’ from the death probe in which they are explicitly named and whether the law should apply or not, just as Naik’s widow Akshata and daughter Adnya had asked in their media briefing in Raigad.
Slamming Union Home Minister Amit Shah for his statements on the issue, state Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant said: “Democracy is shamed when the accused is not even called for recording his statement at the place of the incident.”
“The (then) Devendra Fadnavis government ensured that police ignored the suicide note of Anvay Naik. Utterly shameful. The mother and daughter – who lost their near and dear one – were denied justice by the Fadnavis government, even though there is a clear mention of the accused (Goswami) in the suicide note, just because he’s close to the BJP and drives its agenda,” Sawant said.
On the other hand, adopting an aggressive stance, the BJP’s Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar and party Vice-President Kirit Somaiya rushed to Raigad this morning and organised a protest demonstration outside the Alibaug police station where Goswami was lodged amid tight security.
They carried banners, posters and raised slogans condemning the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for running a “vendetta campaign against a journalist who had exposed” the state regime boldly”.
“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, at the behest of Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, has resorted to an Emergency-like situation. This is an attack on the freedom of press and we strongly oppose such tactics,” Darekar said.
Protests were organised by BJP units in south Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, and other parts of the state as well, burning effigies of the government at some places. Local police detained several activists but later released them.
On Wednesday afternoon, Goswami was presented by Raigad police before the Alibaug Magistrate’s court where a hearing in the case is currently in progress.