Indian police said they arrested a firebrand news host and charged him with assisting with the suicide related to the 2018 death of an architect and mother of the architect. Mumbai police Sanjay Mohite on Wednesday said charges against Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami were linked to the deaths of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother, which police identified as suicidal. .
A suicide note found by the police and identified as written by Naik said he took his life because Goswami and two others owed him large sums of money and refused to repay it. Goswami has denied the allegations.
Goswami is known to actively support Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist policies during his nightly concerts, often yelling at opponents. Critics have accused Republic TV of undermining Modi’s agenda at a time when other media outlets said that press freedom was at stake.
Republic TV in a statement called Goswami’s arrest a “dark day of India’s democracy” and accused him of being assaulted by police. His channel showed a video of Goswami being forced into a police car by police outside his residence in Mumbai.
Many senior leaders of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party quickly condemned Goswami’s arrest.
“Blatant abuse of state power against Republic TV & Arnab Goswami is an attack on personal freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy,” said Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah, wrote on Twitter. “This attack on the free press has to be and there WILL be a chance.”
The Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal, called his arrest a “fascist move” and “a sign of an undeclared emergency.”
“We all have to stand up against this attack on India’s democracy,” Goyal tweeted.
Another senior party minister, Smriti Irani, tweeted: “You may not like him, you may disapprove of him, you can underestimate his existence but if you are im Silence, you will support repression.
The Editorial Association of India, which represents the country’s papers, condemned Goswami’s arrest. In a statement, it urged the authorities to “ensure that Goswami is treated fairly and that state power is not used to counter criticism of the media.”
Goswami is not new to controversy.
Goswami was charged on two other cases with inciting community tensions and promoting hatred among religious groups. He has denied this.
In October, the Mumbai police also accused Republic TV of cheating the rating system, a major factor that the channel could charge advertisers for. Goswami and his channel have denied the allegations.
Over the past few months, he has reported against the Mumbai police and accused them of mishandling an investigation into the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, a famous actor.