Skip to main content

Was it freedom of expression when Arnab Goswami called activists anti-national?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

India’s prime time 'hyper entertainer', Arnab Goswami, was arrested by the Maharashtra police for charges of 'abetment of suicide' of an architect and his mother, who has worked for the so-called 'number one' channel, but did not get paid. Distressed, it has been alleged, the mother-and-son duo committed suicide in 2018.
The police at that time 'investigated' the matter and found no foul play and closed the case. The distraught family was running from pillar to post, yet the then chief minister Devendra Fednavis and his administration protected Arnab, the person accused of abetment, of all the allegations.
In fact, Fadnavis should face an independent commission for upturning the entire Bhima Koregaon violence case into a conspiracy theory and then putting so many intellectuals in jail. A chargesheet has just been filed after nearly one-and-a-half years against Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Stan Swamy, Sudha Bhardwaj and others who are not the persons who would ever spread hatred.
One may disagree with the political views of these intellectuals, with but nothing can be found in their writings which could be termed as anti-national or inciting hatred. Most of the time they have been speaking of the Constitution and the rule of law, and yet they face the tyranny of the state.
No doubt, none can or should justify police action to intimidate journalists. But as for Arnab, I am sure, police appears to have done its homework pretty well. It went to his home to arrest him in the 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 had done it with Rhea Chakraborty, sought to be accused of abetting actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide, when she was arrested.
The police requested Arnab to cooperate while he was accusing them of 'beating' him up. Perhaps, 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' on the live show. A clip spread around by his Republic TV showed the reporter virtually crying that his boss was being taken away in a police van.
Most of the time activists have been speaking of the Constitution and the rule of law, yet they face the tyranny of the state and Arnab's channel
The news of Arnab’s arrest spread like wildfire on social media. ‘Bhakts' and patrons of the ruling party, as also senior ministers of the Modi government, spoke for him in order to pressure and embarrass the Maharashtra government -- though it wasn’t the best of the time, as most in the media, especially TV channels, were busy with 'experts' on US elections.
An interesting part of Arnab's 'power' was prompt statements made by his 'rivals' as well as various associations. The Editors Guild condemned the Maharashtra government's act and many channels suggested that they differed with Arnab's style but condemned the 'assault on the freedom of expression'.
The argument about freedom of expression was soon questioned. Critics called it hollow, as in Arnab’s definition of the term, anyone who disagreed with him could be subjected to his bullying tactics and was anti-national, corrupt and a Naxal, and those who agreed with him won accolades, as they fitted in his narrative of legitimizing the Sangh Parivar.
Indeed, Arnab's show is not really news. It is actually hate campaign. One may argue that he has, after all, the right to speak. Freedom of expression is fine, but under the guise of freedom one cannot run fake news propaganda of the ruling party to discredit opponents, including activists. Indeed, Arnab's show is not meant for free and frank discussion on different issues, but to create an atmosphere of hate towards those who disagree with the ruling party.
Those who speak for Arnab should see how how anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters have been treated and charged with sedition, how a reporter faced FIR for reporting on hunger, how a journalist was arrested under various charges for a tweet against a BJP chief minister, how a Kerala journalist was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) just because he was going to report on Hathras.
Indeed, Arnab is not Ramnath Goenka who fought against Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian ways. Arnab's hate campaign is not 'freedom'. If he had stood for freedom, he should have used his medium to decry all forms of fascism, suppression and religious hatred. Just promoting one kind of narrative and creating false narrative about others, insulting people on the show and carrying out sinister and planned propaganda, is not journalism.
It is time Arnab listened to his own arguments on Sushant Singh Rajput's case to keep Rhea Chakbarborty in jail. He considered word of the 'investigating agencies' as gospel truth. With with his arrest, will Arnab have a change of heart that all that the investigators say is not the final truth and people have the right to get legal aid, and let the process of law take its own course?
---
*Human rights defender

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.