MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Police on Wednesday arrested Republic TV owner and editor, Arnab Goswami, for allegedly abetting the suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik in 2018. A team of Alibaug police picked up Goswami from his Lower Parel house in the morning, a police official said.
Goswami, who was seen being pushed into the police van, claimed he was assaulted by police at his home, before being taken away.
In 2018, the architect and his mother committed suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Republic TV, police said. Goswami, along with two others, has been booked under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide), and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Republic TV owner and editor Arnab Goswami has been arrested by Raigad police in connection with architect Anway Naik suicide case. Mr Naik named Goswami in his suicide note for not paying his architectural work dues & due to financial crisis he ended his life @NewIndianXpress— Sudhir Suryawanshi (@ss_suryawanshi) November 4, 2020
Anvay Naik had done the interior design work of Republic TV studio with charges coming up to Rs 5.40 crore. However, Arnab Goswami had allegedly not paid the dues despite sevaral reminders from Naik. This left Naik and his family in financial crisis and he ended his life leaving a suicide note mentioning and blaming Arnab Goswami for his death. However, the BJP government in Maharashtra under erstwhile chief minister Devendra Fadnavis did not pursue the case and later it was closed down.
In May this year, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced he has ordered a fresh probe in the case after a complaint by Adnya Naik, daughter of the architect Anvay Naik.
Deshmukh said Adnya alleged that the Alibaug police had not investigated the alleged non-payment of dues from Goswami's channel, which she claimed drove her father and grandmother to suicide in May 2018.
Police said that Goswami was taken to Alibaug in Raigad district in connection with the suicide case.
In a viral video, police personnel who entered Goswami's home are seen asking him if he is coming along with them peacefully, following which there is a brief scuffle. While in the police van, Goswami is seen claiming that police assaulted him and his son and he was also not allowed to meet his in-laws.
Police said that in a suicide note, Anvay Naik, who owned Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd, had claimed that he was ending his life due to non-payment of his dues Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks.
Police said that as per the note, the three firms owed Naiks company Rs 83 lakh, Rs four crore and Rs 55 lakh respectively. Police said the two others named in the suicide note have also been arrested.
Responding to the claim on non-payment of dues, Republic TV had in a statement said the entire amount owed to Concorde had been paid. Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders reacted strongly to the police action against Goswami.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar described it as "an attack on press freedom" in Maharashtra and said it reminded of the "Emergency days".
Javadekar tweeted, "We condemn the attack on press freedom in Maharashtra. This is not the way to treat the Press. This reminds us of the emergency days when the press was treated like this." Union minister Smriti Irani condemned Goswami's arrest, saying if those infree press don't stand upin support of him then they aretactically in support of fascism.
Irani, the Women and Child Development Minister, tweeted, "Those in the free press who don't stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism. You may not like him, you may not approve of him,you may despise his very existence but if you stay silent you support suppression. Who speaks if you are next?"
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described the senior journalist's arrest as "seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome". He also questioned the silence of the Congress leadership when its government in Maharashtra was "blatantly suppressing freedom of press".
"The arrest of senior journalist Arnab Goswami is seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome. We had fought for freedoms of Press as well while opposing the draconian Emergency of 1975," Prasad said in a series of tweets.
(With ENS, agency inputs)