The Congress party has gone hammer and tongs against Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami after his statements regarding Sonia Gandhi and the Palghar lynching. After the two sadhus were lynched in Palghar, Maharashtra, Arnab Goswami had asked pointed questions to the Congress party and its President Sonia Gandhi. When the attack by goons and the relentless haranguing by the state machinery did not help silence Arnab Goswami, Congress raked up an old suicide case, in which an FIR was filed against Arnab Goswami, in an attempt to cower him down.
It all started when Arnab Goswami asked why Sonia Gandhi was silent and whether the Italian born politician would have maintained such silence if it were Christian padres who were murdered. In the process, he also brought up the Graham Stains murder, a Christian missionary, as in November 2015, awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice was awarded to the wife of Graham Staines. The award is given by an organisation close to the Congress party. Congress leader P. C. Thomas is one of the members of the committee that decides the awardees. If an organisation linked with Sonia Gandhi’s Congress party could award Staines’ wife, why would she not speak up against the lynching of two sadhus in a state where she has compromised her ideological moorings and aligned with the Shiv Sena.
Congress party filed multiple FIRs in multiple places in their attempt to hound Arnab Goswami and the Maharashtra police, which is now under the alliance government of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP questioned Arnab for over 12 hours. If that was not enough. the police then questioned the group CFO of Republic TV as well. And before the state machinery descended on Arnab, two Congress goons had attacked him and his wife while they were on their way home from the Republic TV studio. The police, in turn, refused to even add Congress’ name in the complaint lodged by Arnab Goswami.
Now, the suicide case being used by Congress to target Arnab Goswami is two years old and the party has been selective in placing facts on the record.
The suicide case of Interior Designer and the abetment to suicide case against Arnab Goswami
In May 2018, an FIR was filed against Arnab Goswami in an alleged abetment to suicide case. An Interior Designer had committed suicide in his bungalow in Alibaug.
Based on the suicide note left behind by Naik, police registered an abetment to suicide case against Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks.
Naik’s wife had alleged that he committed suicide, as Republic TV did not pay his dues. A statement issued by Republic TV said that certain vested interest groups are running a false and malicious campaign and making false statements and innuendos against Republic TV by exploiting a tragic event involving Naik’s unfortunate demise.
“Republic TV will take strict legal action against anyone indulging in such false propaganda. Republic TV would like to clarify that it had engaged the services of one Concorde Designs Private Limited sometime in December 2016. All amounts due and payable under the contract were paid by Republic TV to Concorde Designs. The details of payment, including cheque numbers, amounts, dates of payment, related correspondence and documentation are available with Republic TV. All such details and evidence will be given to the appropriate authorities as and when required. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Naik’s family,” the statement had said.
In a suicide note, Anvay Naik claimed Goswami and the other two persons—Feroz Shaikh and Niteish Sarda—owed him a total of Rs 5.4 crore. The Times of India had then reported Arnab Goswami had allegedly not paid Rs 83 lakh for a design project of a studio.
How is that case against Arnab Goswami being used now by the Congress party
On May 5, the Maharashtra unit of the Congress party tweeted a video by Akshita Naik, the wife of Anvay Naik. The video appeared to have been made to mark two years of the suicide of Anvay Naik and his mother. In the 2.4-minute-long video, most of which is in Marathi, Akshita appeals for support from all Indians to get justice for her and warns “If anything happens to me and my daughter, then solely Arnab Goswami, Anil Paraskar and Suresh Warade would be responsible”. Anil Paraskar was the superintendent of police of Raigad at the time of the suicides while Suresh Warade was senior police inspector in Alibaug.
Mrs.Akshata Naik has alleged that her entrepreneur husband and her mother in law had to commit suicide due to non payment of dues from Mr. Arnab Goswami’s @republic.— Maharashtra Congress (@INCMaharashtra) May 5, 2020
This is serious and needs further investigation. pic.twitter.com/sp0dovnMDr
Akshita alleges in this video that Warade had warned her at the time of filing the FIR that “many powerful people are involved” and asked her to deliberate before filing charges. She claimed her family has not gotten laptops or phones they had given for the investigation two years ago. Akshita Naik added her family were able to get the suicide note back after much persistence.
What happened to the FIR against Arnab Goswami in the abetment to suicide case? What is the status of the case now?
In response to the video circulated by Congress now, Republic TV has issued a statement that details what happened to the abetment to suicide case.
In the response, Republic TV has asserted that the video is malicious and leaves out vital information.
The response says that the case against Arnab Goswami was investigated and closed by a court of law after a closure report was filed by the Police in the matter since Mrs Akshita had no proof to back her allegations or prove any sort of illegality. The response also says that ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd has paid 90% of the amount due to Anvay Naik’s company Concorde Design Pvt Ltd as per the terms of the work order issued over 2 years ago. It says that the remaining amount was to be paid to CDPL after the completion of the work which was never undertaken. Even so, repeated attempts were made by ARG Media to settle the dues once and for all, but since CDPL had no shareholders or directors, that attempt was rendered futile.
Arnab Goswami has asserted that multiple attempts were made by his company to reach Anvay Naik, the wife of the deceased with request to settle the balance payment but no concrete response was ever received. He goes on to say that the balance amount was even transferred to the account of CDPL, however, since the account was inoperative, the amount was returned in July 2019.
The response then goes on to say that Anvay Naik wanted the amount remitted to a third party vendor and even though contractually, that is not allowed, ARG Media offered to have a sit down meeting with her in the presence of their lawyers to find an amicable solution. Despite their email on the 25th of January 2020 and subsequent communication on the 25th and 26th February, there was no response from her. ARG media also says that they have the full record of all communication that vindicate their stand.
Arnab Goswami might approach the court over defamation
The statement released by Republic TV says that the allegations that are being mounted that misrepresent facts will be met with legal action, both civil and criminal including under provisions of criminal conspiracy, defamation and criminal intimidation.
The Congress hand – unbridled vengeance
It is interesting that one comment about Sonia Gandhi and legitimate questions pointed to her have rattled the Congress party to an extend that aside from using goons to attack Arnab Goswami and the state machinery to hound him, they have now raked up a two year old case that was closed by a court of law. Interestingly, the full facts have not been disclosed by Congress and the statements, which according to Republic are false and malicious are being used to browbeat him into silence. Only recently, the Maharashtra government had approached the court alleging that Arnab Goswami is attempting to “terrorise” the Mumbai police through his debates. While the party screams about the freedom of the press and freedom of speech, it seems that those principles are only limited to journalists who prefer to ask Sonia Gandhi whether or not she made pasta for her mother in law and not others who choose to question her.