November 8, 2020

Arnab’s arrest: Press freedom in conflict with criminality

None other than the Home Minister of the country and five of his cabinet colleagues have unfortunately come out in open support of Arnab Goswami, the controversial Editor In Chief of Republic TV, over his arrest in connection with a criminal case and as such their indefensible defence of a journalist arrested in connection with a suicide case is sufficient enough to indicate that the issue surround around politics and not freedom of press . As such we can say without any ambiguity that press freedom is in conflict with criminality particularly so when the case of suicide was closed on the formal request of Mahrashtra Police during the reign of erstwhile BJP led Government headed by Devender Fednavis and opened on the request of incumbent Shiv Sena led coalition government headed by Udhav Thakery recently. What the Home Minister of the country has to say about the live discussions Arnab Goswami conducted over the Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide case with the demand for justice to the victims? Nothing wrong in it if Arnab Goswami is arrested for the purposes of investigation in yet another suicide case to satisfy the victims. The condemnation of Union Home Minister and his several cabinet colleagues itself puts a question mark over the political neutrality of Arnab Goswami and as such BJP’s right to defend Goswami too is also condemnable. Condemning the arrest of a journalist over his alleged involvement in any criminal offence under the garb of press freedom is by all standards of understandabilities an insult to the institution of journalism and people of this biggest democracy of the world must hang their heads in shame over an indefensible defence of about half a dozen union ministers’ including the Union Home Minister and the Finance Minister of the country who have unfortunately called the arrest of Arnab Goswami similar to the acts of press curbs imposed by the erstwhile Indira Gandhi led Congress government at the centre.
Shocking it is that while the head of the top national media body the Editor’s Guild of India has clarified that she did not demand the release of Arnab Goswami presently detained in a case of suicide, the Union Home Minister and his several other cabinet colleagues don’t even ponder over their indefensible defence of a journalist in a suicide case under the grab of press freedom.
The prime responsibility of the journalists is to remind the incumbent central government that Arnab’s arrest is about his alleged involvement in a suicide case and not about the conduct of his professional duty as a TV anchor or Editor In Chief of Republic TV but on the contrary the press censorship was imposed by the erstwhile Indira Gandhi Government against noted journalists of the country over the conduct of their professional duties. If it comes to the issue of press freedom, the central government will have to clear it’s actions against journalists in Utter Pradesh , Bihar and lastly in Jammu & Kashmir where even book authors and several reporters of national dailies were booked under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). While the Chief of the Editors Guild of India Seema Mustafa was recently hailed for her statements against the eviction of some newspapers and news agencies of Kashmir from the government allotted accommodation facility centres, the intensifying public outrage against her statement over the arrest of Arnab Goswani forced her to retract her statement and make it clear to the people that she as President Editor’s Guild of India has not demanded release of Arnab Goswami. Shocking it is that while the head of the top national media body the Editor’s Guild of India has clarified that she did not demand the release of Arnab Goswami presently detained in a case of suicide, the Union Home Minister and his several other cabinet colleagues don’t even ponder over their indefensible defence of a journalist in a suicide case under the grab of press freedom.

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