|Image credit: Pune Mirror
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will hear on Friday a plea from the high-flying editor of Republic TV, Arnab Goswami, against FIRs filed against him in five states which accused him of indulging in hate speech and defamation of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Goswami, in his plea, sought a stay on the FIRs.
Goswami also faced physical confrontation, in which two motorbike-borne men attacked the editor while he was returning home in Mumbai past midnight on Wednesday/Thursday along with his wife, Pipi Samyabrata Ray Goswami. The attack took place near Goswami’s home. The attackers, allegedly Youth Congress activists, parked their bike in front of Goswami’s car, to get him to stop. They could not get at Goswami, but splashed black paint on the white car. The editor’s two securitymen following him in another car immediately intervened, as per reports.
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah will hear Goswami’s on Friday. The cases against Goswami were linked to his comments relating to the Palghar lynching case. These were filed in Maharashtra, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as also Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. On Thursday morning, Mumbai police registered the arrest of two men who confronted Goswami in the street shortly after midnight. Goswami’s personal security guards caught hold of the two and handed them over to the cops.
Goswami stated in the plea before Supreme Court that the moves against him were a coordinated attempt to curb free speech and the Freedom of the Press under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. He said he was told by his security staff that the two men were Youth Congress workers. Police remained tight-lipped about the identity of the two men. Meanwhile, Congress general KC Venugopal said the party had nothing to do with the attack. “This is not our culture,” he said.
In Chhattisgarh, ruled by the Congress, some ministers were among those who filed complaint of “causing religious discord,” against the Editor.
The Republic TV editor had questioned the silence of Sonia Gandhi over the Palghar lynching incident, in which two Hindu sadhus and their driver were lynched by a mob. Some reports said the lynching followed a suspicion that the Sadhus were child-lifters. Others suspected it to be an attack on Hinduism. Over 100 people have been arrested by Maharashtra police in this connection. Goswami had posed the question whether Sonia Gandhi would have remained silent if some padris (Christian priests) had been done to death the way it happened in Palghar.
Goswami, 47, seen by many as part of the Saffron cause, is with Republic TV since 2016. This, after he quit the leadership of Mumbai-based Times Now TV. He had started his career with NDTV in New Delhi after a short stint in The Telegraph, Kolkata. He left it to join the Times Now as its Editor in 2006. BJP former Rajya Sabha MP and Bengaluru-based businessman Rajeev Chandrasekhar is the main financier for Republic TV. He also has major stakes in Kerala-based Asianet channels.
Goswami had a few days ago resigned from the Editors Guild of India over the Palghar incident.
“I have been a member of the Editors’ Guild of India for a long time and I, on live television, resign for its absolute compromise on editorial ethics, for being an organisation for operation only for personal interests. I accuse you, Shekhar Gupta, of leading the compromise on journalism for not speaking on incidents like this (Palghar one). The killings were not a case of mistaken identity and the intentions were clear,” Goswami had said in his prime time news debate. — –IHN-NN