The Mumbai Police on Wednesday morning detained journalist Arnab Goswami for allegedly abetting the suicide of an interior designer in Alibaug. Republic TV ran live footage of the police entering the journalist’s residence to take him into custody. He was later put inside a police van.

An unidentified senior police officer told the Hindustan Times that the journalist will be taken to Alibaug.

The case pertains to the death of Anvay Naik, managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, in 2018. A suicide note by Naik accused Goswami and two others – Feroz Shaikh and Niteish Sarda – of not paying dues worth Rs 5.40 crore. Naik and his mother Kumud Naik were found dead in their home in Kavir village of Alibaug.

The first information report in the case said that Goswami of ARG Outlier, which owns Republic TV, had allegedly not paid Rs 83 lakh for the Bombay Dyeing Studio Project. Shaikh had not paid Rs 4 crore for a project in Andheri while Sarda, owner of Smart work, had allegedly skipped payment of Rs 55 lakh for his projects at Baner and Magarpatta in Pune.

Meanwhile, Goswami’s lawyer said that the journalist’s arrest was not conveyed to his wife. “He was assaulted by two police officers,” the lawyer claimed, reported ANI. “His family members were pushed and house was cordoned off for three hours. There are abrasions on his left hand and an existing injury on his hand was tried to be torn apart by police.”

In August, the wife of the interior designer had called for action against Goswami. In a video released on social media, she blamed the journalist for allegedly driving her husband to death.

Reactions to Goswami’s detention

BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani criticised the Mumbai Police’s action against Goswami. “Those in the free press who don’t stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism,” she tweeted. “You may not like him, you may not approve of him, you may despise his very existence but if you stay silent you support suppression. Who speaks if you are next?”

Union minister Prakash Javadekar condemned the attack on press freedom in Maharashtra. “This is not the way to treat the press,” he said. “This reminds us of the emergency days when the press was treated like this.”

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: “This fascist move is a sign of undeclared emergency. Assaulting journalist Arnab Goswami is an example of misuse of power. We must all stand up against this attack on India’s democracy.”