In an unexpected development on Wednesday morning, police in Maharashtra arrested prominent television anchor Arnab Goswami for abetment to suicide.
The Republic TV editor-in-chief and two other people – Feroz Shaikh and Niteish Sarda – are alleged to have failed to pay money they owed to an interior designer named Anvay Naik, managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited.
Naik and his mother were found dead in their home in Kavir village near Mumbai in 2018. A suicide note said that the Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda had not paid dues amounting to Rs 5.40 crore.
Goswami’s dramatic programming often reinforces the positions of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He frequently conducts media trials of the government’s critics and airs enthusiastic debates on subjects calculated to move attention away from the India’s most urgent problems.
But in recent weeks, he has himself been the focus of attention himself.
Republic TV and some other channels are being investigated by the Mumbai Police for allegedly trying to manipulate TV ratings. The police have also questioned channel employees for their role in allegedly “creating disaffection” within the force by airing a programme claiming that a revolt was brewing against Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
The anchor’s supporters claimed that he was being victimised for saying things that are uncomfortable for the government in opposition-ruled Maharashtra and the Mumbai Police. But his detractors suggested that karma was catching up with him for hounding the government’s opponents.
It isn’t surprising that his arrest was widely discussed – especially by India’s cartoonists.
To being with, the swiftness with which senior members of the Union cabinet, including Home Minister Amit Shah, tweeted their criticsm of Goswami’s arrest in opposition-ruled Maharashtra left little doubt about Goswami’s proxmity to the powers-that-be.
The fact that Goswami and his high-profile supporters have failed to make statements about many other journalists who have also face legal trouble did not go unnoticed.
The cartoonist Manjul, meanwhile, chose to make this observation that summed it all up.