New Delhi: Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and Congress locked horns Thursday after the former allegedly used “derogatory” words against interim party chief Sonia Gandhi during a discussion on his channel about the Palghar lynching incident.
The face-off began Thursday when Goswami lodged a police complaint in Mumbai after his car was allegedly attacked by two bike-borne men Wednesday around midnight when he was returning to his Worli residence with his wife. According to Goswami, the two attackers were Youth Congress workers.
After the incident, Goswami in a video called Sonia Gandhi the “biggest coward in this country” and said “if anything were to happen to him, it is Sonia Gandhi who will be responsible”.
— Republic (@republic) April 22, 2020
Goswami filed the complaint at NM Joshi Marg police station in Mumbai, following which two accused were arrested and an FIR filed against them.
ThePrint reached Goswami for a comment on the matter, but is yet to receive a response.
Meanwhile, Congress wings in various states — Maharashtra, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Punjab — filed police complaints against Goswami Wednesday and Thursday. Most of these complaints alleged that he used derogatory language against Gandhi and made “inflammatory statements” during discussions on the Palghar incident on his channel.
Goswami in one of his shows broadcast Tuesday on Republic Bharat — the Hindi wing of Republic TV — made a remark about Gandhi’s Italian origin during a discussion on the Palghar lynching incident and said she is “happy” that the saints have been killed in a state ruled by her party.
“Will Sonia Gandhi remain quiet? She is quiet today and she is happy that the saints have been killed where her government is ruling. She will send a report to Italy that she is getting saints killed in a place where her government is ruling and she will get praises for that,” he said on the show.
Denouncing ‘attack’ on Goswami’s car
The alleged attack on Goswami was denounced by several politicians on Twitter.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar condemned the “attempt to attack Arnab Goswami”.
“We condemn every attack on any journalist. This is against democracy and it is really ironical that those who preach tolerance have become so intolerant,” he said.
We condemn the attempt to attack Arnab Goswami. We condemn every attack on any journalist. This is against democracy and it is really ironical that those who preach tolerance have become so intolerant. Therefore we condemn this attempt: Information and Broadcasting Minister pic.twitter.com/enblQjHC7P
— ANI (@ANI) April 23, 2020
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said Goswami’s complaint and absence of his security people should be investigated, and the guilty should be punished.
Mr Goswami says he was attacked. Just because he calls the people he doesn’t like liars doesn’t mean we have to do the same. His complaint & absence of his security people should be throughly investigated & the facts brought to light so any guilty people are punished.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 23, 2020
Congress leader Ahmed Patel also slammed the alleged attack and said “the law should take its own course”.
Constitution of India must be followed by all
It guarantees freedom of expression,but not libel
FoE can’t be used by propagandists to inject poison into society
Also, FoE doesn’t allow anyone to throw ink at such people.
The law should take its own course
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) April 23, 2020
In a press release Thursday, the Press Council of India (PCI) took a suo motu cognisance of the matter and asked the Maharashtra government to submit a report in connection with the case.
The PCI statement, however, also said: “Violence is not the answer even against bad journalism”.
Complaints by Congress
Congress sources told ThePrint that a majority of the police complaints against Goswami have come from Chhattisgarh. They, however, didn’t specify the number of complaints filed against Goswami in the state.
An FIR was registered in Raipur against Goswami over separate complaints by Chhattisgarh Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo and state Congress president Mohan Markam.
According to the complaints, the anchor during a debate on his channel used words and statements that led to inciting people for riots. It further stated during the same debate, he used derogatory language against Gandhi and made baseless allegations of communal nature against her.
Another FIR was filed against Goswami in Raipur based on a complaint by district president of Congress Girish Dubey for allegedly spreading fake news related to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In Nagpur, Maharashtra, an FIR was filed late Wednesday night against Goswami by Maharashtra Power Minister Nitin Raut.
The FIR alleged giving provocation with intent to cause riot, promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion or race, deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs and defamation under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In Bihar too, an FIR was filed by Congress leader Kokab Kadri for allegedly spreading hatred and making indecent remarks against Gandhi.
Delhi Congress president Anil Chaudhary also lodged a complaint with the police for registration of an FIR against Goswami.
In Punjab also, an FIR was filed on a complaint by Harmohinder Singh Grover, chairman of Punjab Congress’ Freedom Fighter Cell.
‘Outrage’ of Congress supporters
The Congress termed the multiple FIRs and police complaints against Goswami “spontaneous” and an “outrage” of party supporters.
AICC secretary in-charge, communications, Pranav Jha told ThePrint the Congress has faced continuous agenda-driven journalism in particular sections of media earlier too, but has always been tolerant.
“What has happened in the recent episode involving Republic Bharat TV is unfortunate. The reaction that you see through lodging of complaints and FIRs are spontaneous and triggered by outrage of our workers and supporters,” he said.
“Freedom of expression and responsibility to not misuse it for baseless abuse and hate mongering is what is expected from any of us and we hope that in this matter the law will take its own course,” Jha added.
Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik, meanwhile, said Goswami has “lost complete mental balance”.
“Strongly condemn Arnab Goswami’s attack on Smt Sonia Gandhi. He is full of venom, partisan, abusive and has lost complete mental balance. It’s time that journalists should come out and disown him,” he tweeted Wednesday.
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