Maharashtra BJP leader says arresting a journalist, making him an accused and denying bail raises questions
GN Bureau | November 12, 2020
Ashish Shelar, chief whip, BJP, Maharashtra assembly, has said that the arrest of Republic TV managing director Arnab Goswami is an act of political vendetta by the state’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for his investigative journalism into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
“If you look at the happenings of the case closely, it reeks of personal ego and political vendetta more than a criminal offence. While it can be debated if the method adopted for investigative journalism was correct or not, it can also be debated what type of language needs to be used in investigative journalism… and not everyone may agree on this,” he said.
Shelar was speaking with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, in a live webcast Wednesday as part of the Visionary Talks Series.
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The senior BJP leader pointed that going by pure legal aspects of the case, after investigation, the police had filed ‘A’ Summary proceedings in the court. The magistrate accepted the case and thereafter closed the case. There was no appeal in the case.
“… because a journalist has raised the issue, questioned and criticised the government… and the manner in which the home minister used threatening tone in the state assembly and said that government will reopen the case…. this raises questions… if the journalist is arrested, made an accused and denied bail… it raises questions. The supreme court interim bail to Arnab Goswami today [Wednesday] clearly proves that there is no connection with any criminal case but a personal agenda and vendetta,” he said.
Criticising Mumbai police commissioner Parambir Singh, Shelar said that after taking instructions from the government if a police officer openly challenges a journalist saying “we will show you” and the happenings thereafter… I don’t think there is any doubt that it is political vendetta.”
While responding to a question on the BJP terming Goswami’s arrest as death of freedom and likening it to the state of emergency and if the statement was justified, Shelar said that ever since the MVA came to power in the state such incidents have been taking place. He cited the example a retired naval officer who was beaten up after he forwarded a cartoon of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on WhatsApp, registration of a criminal case against an ABP news channel journalist for questioning travel permission to the Wadhawans during lockdown, demolition of actress Kangana Ranaut’s office, and added that the arrest of Goswami raises the question if there is any freedom of speech in Maharashtra.
While speaking on the arrest of a journalist by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh after the Hathras gangrape and murder case, Shelar said that entire “Leftist media” made a tornado of the incident as if there had been no precedent of this case.
“When the victim must get justice, entire Leftist media made a tornado of the incident as if there has been no precedent of this case and discredited the Yogi Adityanath government. As the government wanted to protect the witness in the case, it did not allow anyone to contact the victim’s family,” he said.
Shelar also added that media organisations must respect counterviews without making criminals out of people on the other side. “Fairness is paramount to news media. In that fairness news should not be fake or disseminated wrongly. News organisations must use correct words and desist from character assassination of people whose ideology may be different than theirs and not hold them as if there is no bigger criminal than the person on the other side; otherwise people will lose faith in media and politics and this will not auger well for both,” he said.
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