Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami has filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court over a first information report filed by the Mumbai Police for allegedly creating communal hatred in connection with the April 14 migrant workers protest outside the Bandra station, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The complainant, Irfan Abubakar Shaikh, secretary of Raza Educational Welfare Society, referred to a report aired on the channel on April 29. He said Goswami targeted a mosque in Bandra that had no link with the migrants protest. Shaikh accused both the channel and Goswami of trying to spread hatred against the Muslim community, adding that the anchor “purposely highlighted the mosque”.
Thousands of migrants had gathered outside Bandra railway station, demanding that they be sent back to their hometowns as they were finding it difficult to survive during the nationwide lockdown. This came after a journalist had allegedly said a decision had been made to run special trains for migrant workers.
In his petition, Goswami said the FIR is “politically motivated” and that the Mumbai Police “harbours ill-will and malice” towards him. He sought protection from coercive action and quashing of the FIR.
“Republic TV was the first TV channel to report the fact that political interest groups, mainly leaders of the Congress were spreading false news and orchestrating lockdown violations in Mumbai,” Goswami added. “It was matter of national concern.”
The case against Goswami was filed on May 2 at the Pydhonie police station. The complainant also said the debate on the channel intended to blame the Muslim community for the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Goswami had made many such hate-filled comments against the community, targeting it,” Shaikh added.
This came after at least 16 complaints were filed against Goswami in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh for allegedly defaming Congress President Sonia Gandhi. However, the Supreme Court allowed the police to proceed with investigations into one of the FIRs filed, but stayed the rest. The top court had granted interim protection to the TV anchor for three weeks and ruled that no coercive action should be taken against him.
On Monday, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court to pass orders to “insulate” the Mumbai Police from any pressure, threat or coercion from Goswami during the investigation of his comments against Gandhi in the Palghar lynching case. The police accused Goswami of making statements, during a debate on his Republic Bharat channel, that were aimed at “browbeating, terrorising and intimidating the investigating officer”.
Goswami had launched a full-blown attack on Gandhi and claimed that she had orchestrated the Palghar lynching in Maharashtra. 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. Two of men were sadhus.
On April 23, Goswami had accused the Congress of attacking him and his wife Samyabrata Ray when they were returning home from work. The Mumbai Police made arrests in connection with the attack.