Arnab Goswami’s arrest is not a threat to freedom of expression

arnab goswami

Nation’s primetime ‘hyper entertainer’ was yesterday arrested by the Maharashtra Police for charges of ‘abetment of suicide’ of an architect and his mother who worked for the so-called ‘number one’ channel yet not got paid.

Distressed, it was alleged, both mother-son duos committed suicide. The police that time ‘investigated’ the matter and found no foul play and closed the case. The distraught family was running here and there but Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his administration were protecting the person from all the allegations.

In fact, the Fadnavis should face an independent commission for upturning the entire Bhima Koregaon violence case into a conspiracy theory and then putting so many intellectuals languishing in jail where a charge sheet has just been filed after nearly one and half years. And most of those who have been jailed right from Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Stan Swamy, Sudha Bhardwaj are not the persons who have been spreading hatred. These are the people whose political views we might agree with but we have not found anything in their writing which can be termed as anti-national or inciting to violence or hatred. Most of the time, they have been speaking of constitution and rule of law and yet they face the tyranny of the state.

None can justify police action to intimidate journalists but Arnab Goswami does the other way round. I am sure, police had done their homework well. It went to his home to arrest him yesterday morning. Perhaps, that was not a great time as far as Arnab was concerned as he wanted to make everything a public spectacle as his channel does when Rhea Chakraborty was being arrested.

The policemen were requesting him to cooperate while he was accusing them of ‘beating’.

It was really sad to see a senior person making a mockery of himself. Even in his arrest, Arnab was thinking of TRP for his channel and wanted his wife and son to broadcast live the ‘entire’ event with him as an ‘anchor’ of the live show. This is a problem with those who think themselves above the law and right to thrash anyone.

I saw one clip being spread by Republic network with the reporter virtually crying, they are taking Arnab Sir in the van.

Can you imagine, Editor in chief of India’s number one channel being taken in a ‘van’ on the backside?

Arnab’s wife and other members of the channel were behaving as if such things don’t happen and were specifically meant for it. It is not the job of a reporter to ask who is investigating the case. The best way for him would have been to cooperate and not to treat the officers in contempt. Everybody is big and powerful when on duty. The same officer’s boss would be different when being interviewed by Arnab.

It showed the power of Arnab Goswami that not only his ‘bhakts’ and patrons in the ruling party and government spoke for him and probably get all pressures to embarrass Maharashtra government but netas and police know it well that the court may release him but the cases and the harassment due to procedural things in India is very high. It is not that a judge will give you bail.

He may or may not and Arnab has his patrons who consider him ‘deshbhakt number-i” are in Delhi and probably will do everything to get him bail but that won’t stop his woes with so many cases. But it is clear that he is willing to do work for the ruling party the way he was trying to bully the police officers who went to arrest him.

The news of the arrest spread like wildfire in the social media though it was not the best of the time for him as most of his ‘rivals’ were busy with their ‘experts’ on the US elections and it will continue for a few more days with Trump providing enough ‘entertainment’ for media particularly the international media as American Democracy is in real crisis whether Donald Trump will accept defeat gracefully or will create further complexities in the coming days but given Arnab’s entertainment, he too will be on top of the news particularly in his own channel.

The interesting part of Arnab’s ‘power’ was the prompt statements made by his ‘rivals’ as well as various associations. Editors Guild condemn the Maharashtra government’s act and many channels suggested that they differ with Arnab’s style but condemn the ‘assault on freedom of expression’, of course, the media don’t have the spine to ask the same question to the Central Government or to the two top functionaries of the government.

The argument about freedom of expression is endangered in India is hollow as freedom the same has never been ‘infinite’ like the French constitution.

Arnab has enjoyed this ‘freedom of expression’ the most and created an environment against the same. All others who disagreed with his bullying tactics were anti-national, corrupt and Naxals. It is he and his kind of farcical journalism which became embedded with the establishment and questioning the opposition and the activists. Arnab was doing things deliberately. He was provoking people to speak so that he can make a point, push them to fix into the greater agenda of Sangh Parivar. On every act of social concern, he created a situation to legitimise Sangh Narrative.

Arnab’s show and news are not really news and they are a hate campaign.

Often we are told that we disagree with him and his views but support his right to speak so. Freedom of expression is fine but under the guise of this freedom, you can not run fake news propaganda of the ruling party to discredit the political opponents or activists.

Arnab’s show is not meant for discussion but creates hatred for all those who disagree with the ruling party and that is why all of them came to his rescue so fast and started comparing the day with an emergency. It is the same people who have sent reporters to jail for doing their work. Haven’t we seen how anti CAA protesters have been treated and charged, how a reporter faced FIR for hunger reports, how a journalist was arrested under various charges for a tweet against CM, how a Kerala journalist was arrested under UAPA just because he was going to report Hatharas case?

So, we live in supreme irony where those responsible for violation of human rights and freedom of expression are actually speaking about it. What can be the bigger irony that the person who is responsible for killing journalism in India and making it just vicious propaganda machinery of the ruling party, who never allowed any freedom his panellists, who abused, intimidated and threatened others is now getting ‘support’ for his ‘freedom of expression’.

We know the risk of state apparatus doing such things and it is dangerous but it is Arnab and his kind of people who have made state apparatus like this blaming activist not to question them. Fortunately for Arnab, this time, the central government is his own party but if there were another government at the centre, how would he face that. He is not Ramnath Goenka who fought against Indira Gandhi but purely ideological battle and politics.

Arnab’s hate campaign is not ‘freedom’.

I would have loved his ‘freedom’ if he has used his medium to decry all forms of fascism, suppression and religious hatred. Just promoting one kind of narrative and creating a false narrative about others, insulting people on the show and carrying out sinister and planned propaganda is not journalism.

We hope the court will do justice with Arnab Goswami. They should see the case in entirety. If the case of abetment to suicide was closed by the police earlier, it is time for the court to find out why. If the current government is being accused of malafide intentions then the court must ask who and why the police ordered the closure report on the case earlier. The family of the dead architect must get justice and for this police must investigate the case and get justice. It is Arnab and his channel, who made the central agencies as mybaaps whose every ‘leak’ he was enjoying as ‘exclusive’ for his channel.

While Arnab may get bail soon and the court might pass stricture for ‘high handedness’ for Arnab is not a ‘victim’ and none can ‘victimise’ a person who has got full support from the most powerful central government yet Maharashtra police have shown him who is ‘powerful’ and their aim, it seems, was to humiliate him, even if that was meant for a day. Arnab never spoke questions to the power but he became the biggest defender of the power who violated people’s rights. His show became the biggest narrative against free thought and freedom of expression. His friends are asking ‘liberals’ to support or where they are, but fortunately, most of them have spoken for his freedom.

The question is Arnab Goswami must listen to his own argument that he gave in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s case to keep Rhea Chakbarborty in jail. Each word of the ‘investigating agencies’ was considered as gospel truth according to Republic TV. With yesterday’s event, will Arnab have a change of heart that all that the investigators say are not the final truth and people have a right to get legal aid and that let the process of law take its own course?

Arnab could have shown much bigger maturity during his arrest but he behaved as if he can not be touched and looked like an overly pampered boy who was not ready to listen to anyone as he forgot that it was not ‘reel’ life show on his channel but a real-life event where he was an accused and the process of law take its own time unlike his channel wherein just one hour he declare every one disagreeing with him as guilty. We will only say that let Arnab get all the legal aid pass through all the processes so that justice is done and it is possible only through due process of law and not through fixed shows of his programmes which created mental traumas for so many people in his attempt to influence the process of law.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

November 5th, 2020

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