One of India’s most popular and polarizing television journalists was arrested in connection with a 2018 suicide, escalating the ongoing feud between the conservative messenger and the Maharashtra state government.
Arnab Goswami, the founder of right-wing Republic TV, was arrested at his home in Mumbai earlier on Wednesday. It sparked an angry refrain from the ruling Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party, including from the interior minister, Amit Shah, who called it a “blatant abuse of state power”;.
Goswami has established himself as one of India’s most pro-government and active TV presenter. On Republic TV, he was frequently seen screaming and pointing at the camera as he strongly supported BJP’s Hindu nationalism and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Republican television was accused of defaming opponents and promoting anti-Islamic conspiracy theories. It is under investigation for allegedly cheating viewership ratings by paying people to keep their TVs running its channel. Republic TV and Goswami have strongly denied the allegations.
Most recently, Goswami spoke out against the Maharashtra state government, controlled by the Shiv Sena party, by accusing the organization of being involved in the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who committed suicide in June.
Shiv Sena is a former ally of BJP, but the two sides are now uncomfortable opponents. Goswami was accused of exploiting Rajput’s death to defame BJP’s political opponents in Maharashtra, as well as other BJP supporters who gave the story that Rajput was murdered, which proved to be unfounded. just.
BJP’s top figures accuse the Maharashtra government of “revenge” on Goswami by arresting him in connection with the 2018 suicide of an interior designer, Anvay Naik. In one note, Naik allegedly blamed Goswami for driving him to death by refusing to pay him for the work he did for Republic TV. In a statement in 2018, Republic TV said these allegations were unfounded.
Under the administration of the previous BJP government in Maharashtra, the Naik case is believed to have been closed after political pressure was applied, but Mumbai police say it has now reopened.
BJP Chairman, JP Nadda, called the arrest of Goswami a “attack on press freedom” while former BJP Minister Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis said “such efforts to suppress voices against mainstreaming. government is detrimental to democracy “.
However, many have accused the BJP of being hypocritical, pointing out that many journalists and publications that criticize the government of the BJP are frequently labeled “anti-national” and arrested or charged. under criminal law. During the Covid-19 crisis, more than 50 journalists were arrested for reporting criticism. In a recent report by Reporters Without Borders, India fell to 142nd out of 180 countries in the global press freedom index.
Shiv Sena denies any connection with Goswami’s arrest. “The state government or any political party was not involved in the arrest,” said Anil Parab, spokesman for Shiv Sena. “There is no politics of revenge. The BJP is trying to save Arnab Goswami as if their party employee was taken away by the police. “