The Press Council of India and the Editors Guild of India on Thursday condemned the alleged attack on Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and his wife in the early hours of the day. Goswami’s wife, Samyabrata Ray, is also a senior editor at the channel, and the couple were allegedly attacked when they were returning home from work.
The Press Council of India said every journalist has the right to express their opinion, while the Editors Guild said the freedom to express one’s views or report facts without any fear or intimidation is the most fundamental tenet of journalism.
“The Press Council of India is distressed to know about the alleged attack on Mr Arnab Goswami purportedly for his views as journalist,” the Press Council statement said. “Every citizen in the Country including a journalist has the right to express their opinion which may not be palatable to many but this does not give any body the authority to strangulate such voice.”
The council said that violence is “not the answer, even against bad journalism”. It urged the Maharashtra government to bring the perpetrators of the attack on Goswami to justice. The council said its Chairperson Chandramauli Kumar Prasad has directed the Maharashtra government, through Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta and Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, to submit a report on the facts of the case, “at the earliest”.
The Editors Guild also urged the Mumbai Police to book those who attacked Goswami and his wife.
The Mumbai Press Club had earlier in the day also condemned the attack on Goswami and his wife and said such acts of violence have no place in a democracy. The press club, however, clarified that their statement has no bearing on the ideological stand taken by Goswami on his news channel.
The press body in a statement said the attempts made to stop Goswami’s car, throw ink on him and bang his car windows are violent acts probably intended to “overawe or threaten” him. “Such acts of violence have no place in a democracy and the MPC [Mumbai Press Club] is opposed to any attempt to bully or pressure the functioning of a free press,” the statement read.
In a video message, Goswami said that two men on a bike had attacked his car while he and his wife Samyabrata Ray were returning to their home around 12.15 am on Thursday. He said that the men initially tried to break the window panes of his car. But when they were unable to do it and Goswami tried to move the car away, they threw some liquid-filled bottles and again tried to break the windows. Goswami added that he then swerved his car away and drove into his building.
Goswami has blamed the Congress for the attack.
The Mumbai Press Club noted the arrests in the case and further urged the Maharashtra government and the police to “speedily investigate the matter and bring to light the entire facts of the case, including charges by Goswami that Congress workers are involved”. The statement added that violence and threats against the media cannot be justified.
On Thursday morning, the Mumbai Police arrested two people in connection with the attack. A first information report was filed at the NM Joshi Marg Police Station under sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code, the police said.
The incident came days after Goswami launched a full-blown attack on Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and claimed that she had orchestrated lynching of three men in Palghar.
Three Mumbai residents, who were on their way to Silvassa on April 16, were lynched by local residents in Gadakchinchale village of Palghar district on the suspicion that they were thieves. The men who were lynched were reportedly Hindu religious leaders.