Two persons were arrested by the NM Joshi Marg police in Mumbai on Thursday after Republic TV co-founder and anchor Arnab Goswami complained that he was attacked by them while he was on his home in the early hours of the day.
The police said they were informed about the incident by the police personnel deployed for protection of Mr. Goswami at 1 a.m. A team was sent to the Raheja Atlantis building in Worli, where Mr. Goswami stays with his wife, Samyabrata. They took the two men into custody.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Goswami reached the police station with an application signed by him, his wife and his police guards. It said he and his wife were driving home from work when the two assailants drew abreast of their car on a scooter, banged on the driver’s side window several times and threw ink on it from a bottle. They were caught by Mr. Goswami’s guards, who were following him in a separate vehicle.
Based on the complaint, an FIR was registered.
“We have arrested the accused and charged them with intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace under the Indian Penal Code along with relevant sections of the Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions Act,” Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok said.
Remanded in police custody
An officer with the NM Joshi Marg police station said the duo in their 30s, identified as Pratik Mishra and Raju Borade, were residents of Pratiskha Nagar in Vikhroli. They were produced in court in the afternoon and remanded in police custody till April 25.
The police are verifying their political affiliation, although Mr. Goswami has gone on record to state that the duo confessed to being from the Congress party in a video that he released online later.
“We have obtained their custody precisely for the purpose of verifying whether this offence was politically motivated. It is too early for us to comment on it at this stage,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Abhinash Kumar said.
Mr. Goswami, in the five-minute video, accuses Congress president Sonia Gandhi of being responsible for the incident and lashes out at her for the “attack on him and his wife.”
The Congress denied that any of its workers were involved in the alleged attack on Mr. Goswami.
“We are very sure Congressmen have nothing to do with this. This is not our tradition, not our culture. We will not get physical against anybody even those who criticise the Congress,” party general secretary K.C. Venugopal said in an online press conference.
Former Lok Sabha member and head of the All India Mahila Congress (AIMC) Sushmita Dev wrote to Information and Broadcasting Ministry Prakash Javadekar seeking action against Mr. Goswami for ‘violating’ the broadcasting rule.
In the letter, dated April 22, she claimed that the content of a show broadcast on Republic Bharat on Tuesday anchored by Mr. Goswami was “vile, misleading and hateful in nature”.
She said, “The broadcast in its entirety is a violation of the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994”.
Cowardly act: BJP
The Maharashtra unit of the BJP has thrown its weight behind Mr. Goswami, calling the alleged attack a cowardly act. Senior leaders of the party on Thursday urged the State government to take strict action against those behind the ‘attack’. Party leader Kirit Somaiya reached the NM Joshi Marg Police Station and met senior officers in charge of the investigation. “The Congress goons have attacked a respectable journalist and we condemn it as a party. We have met the Governor and requested the Chief Minister to take strict action against the attackers. We want to ask questions to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi why the party should try and silence those critiquing the leadership,” said Mr. Somaiya.
Other party leaders too urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to pursue the case with urgency. “Democracy is all about discussion, debate, discourse, and not suppression of expression by indulging in violence. I strongly condemn the cowardly attack on senior editor Arnab Goswami. I request the State government to please ensure strict action and punishment to guilty, “ said former Chief Minister and leader of the party in the legislature Devendra Fadnavis.
The party’s leadership in New Delhi has already condemned the attack. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the ‘attack’ was “against democracy”. “We condemn the attempt to attack renowned journalist Arnab Goswami. Essentially, we condemn every attack on any journalist. Because this is against democracy,” he said.