The Kolkata Police on Thursday sent a letter to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, threatening to file a defamation case against the channel and its sister network, Republic Bharat, the news channel said.
Kolkata’s additional commissioner of police sent the letter to Goswami for a telecast aired on February 2 in which he claimed that Kolkata Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar was absconding, ANI reported. The state government claimed that Goswami had attempted to malign Kumar’s image.
“Nothing can be farther from the truth,” the letter said. “Not only was the CP Kolkata available in the city, but had also been attending office, except on January 31, when he was on leave for a day.”
“We condemn this misinformation and feel that your channel had aired it with ulterior motives to malign both the commissioner of police as an individual and the Kolkata Police as an organisation,” the letter added.
The police asked Goswami to respond to the letter within three days of receiving it, and explain why he had aired the news item and why a defamation case should not be filed.
However, Goswami said he was ready to be arrested. “I am ready to be arrested by [West Bengal Chief Minister] Mamata [Banerjee] and her henchmen in the Kolkata Police,” he said according to ANI. “Mamata should not think she can browbeat me using her stooges in the Kolkata Police.”
The Republic TV editor claimed that he was proud of the news item. “We are proud we exposed details of the alleged role of her police officers in concealing the Saradha scam,” he said. “And if she [Banerjee] thinks her lawyers and state government machinery can be used to attack us, then let Mamata know that me and the Republic media network is ready to take them on.”
The stand-off between the state and the Central Bureau of Investigation began after a CBI team reached Kumar’s home on February 3 to question him in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams. The agency had alleged that Kumar failed repeatedly failed to answer their summons. But when the agency’s team reached the police officer’s residence, the Kolkata Police detained five members of the team for around two hours. Banerjee came out in Kumar’s support, and organised a three-day dharna against the Centre.
The Supreme Court on February 5 directed Kumar to cooperate with the CBI. But the court said no coercive steps, including arrest, can be taken against the police officer. The next day, the Centre asked the West Bengal government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Kumar.