The Wire's Founding Editor Siddharth Varadarajan on Thursday has condemned the attack on Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. Varadarajan added that the freedom of speech/press is guaranteed by the Constitution of India and that the goons who attacked Goswami should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.
In a series of tweets Varadarajan said, "Freedom of speech/press is guaranteed by India's constitution & applies to all, regardless of their politics, ideology or manners. Constitution allows 'reasonable' restrictions but not violence. So no room for ifs & buts—the attack on Arnab Goswami last night must be condemned."
Considering that Goswami claimed that the attackers were "Congress goons" and that the party is part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, Siddharth Varadarajan said, " The goons should be prosecuted to fullest extent of law, especially given Goswami's charge that they are affiliated to Congress—part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra. Across India, sadly, political affiliations usually allow thugs to get away. Onus is on you, @OfficeofUT."
Earlier on Wednesday, Congress leaders had lashed out at Goswami for accusing Sonia Gandhi of remaining silent on the Palghar mob-lynching incident. "Coincidentally—or not so coincidentally—Congress leaders on Twitter attacked Goswami for what they called his "offensive" TV comments against Sonia Gandhi. Organised trolling vitiates the public sphere but has sadly become the norm with parties, both ruling and opposition," said Varadarajan.
"We know that organised trolling instigates physical threats & attacks. Don't forget Gauri Lankesh & Shujaat Bukhari were shot dead after being targeted online. Umar Khalid was fired on. Women journalists critical of the regime are subjected to atrocious threats. This must stop," he added.
However, Varadarajan further said that the "anti-Muslim filth" that Arnab and his counterparts put on the channels have "created an atmosphere of great insecurity and fear for Muslims across the country".
He added, "These anchors function as extensions of BJP/RSS and their agenda is to make Hindus hateful and angry, and communalise society on every issue. Their coverage of COVID, the Bandra crowd & Palghar incident are the most recent examples and Arnab is the most irresponsible of the lot."
Meanwhile, an FIR was registered on Thursday morning against two persons for allegedly attacking Goswami and his wife Samyabrata Ray.
The two were identified as Prateek Mishra and Arun Borade, and have been booked under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
"Two people have been arrested for attacking Arnab Goswami and his wife. The FIR has been registered at the NM Joshi Marg Police station under Sections 341 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code," Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Zone 3, Avinash Kumar told ANI.