Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis should be made a “co-accused” in the abetment to suicide case against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Umesh Patil said on Wednesday, reported The Indian Express.

On Wednesday, the Mumbai Police took the Republic TV editor-in-chief into custody for allegedly abetting the suicide of an interior designer in Alibaug in 2018. Anvay Naik, managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, and his mother Kumud Naik were found dead in their home in Kavir village of Alibaug. A suicide note by Naik accused Goswami and two others – Feroz Shaikh and Niteish Sarda – of not paying dues worth Rs 5.40 crore.

“From the press conference of Naik’s family, it has become clear that pressure was...put on them to sign papers related to closure of the suicide case,” the NCP spokesperson said. “Since at that time, the Home ministry portfolio was with then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, he should be made a co-accused in the case. The police officials who tried to pressure Naik family should also be made co-accused.”

Patil said the way BJP ministers and political leaders have come out in support of Goswami clearly revealed that the journalist “is a BJP worker”. In Uttar Pradesh, when a journalist wrote an article she was booked under the Atrocities Act, Patil highlighted, adding that several journalists have been arrested in the country but the saffron party has never supported them.

The spokesperson may have been referring to the case filed against’s Executive Editor Supriya Sharma, for a report from the prime minister’s constituency in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, on the effects of the country’s lockdown to combat the coronavirus.

“The nation wants to know when two people have committed suicide and when a suicide note has been found, specifically naming the person, why the accused was not arrested,” said Patil during the media briefing.

Several BJP politicians, including Union ministers and chief ministers, on Wednesday criticised the arrest, with many of them referring to the period of Emergency in India. Union Home Minister Amit Shah criticised the Congress and said the party and its allies had “shamed democracy once again”. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar condemned the attack on press freedom in Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe called for the need for a proper inquiry in the case. She suspected pressure to suppress the facts and prevent the arrest of the three. “If the police officers are found guilty, action should also be taken against them...,” she added, according to The Indian Express.

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant also accused the Devendra Fadnavis-led government of suppressing the case.

However, BJP chief spokespersin Keshav Upadhaye said the coalition government in Maharashtra was practicing “politics of vendetta”.

Goswami was produced before a court in Mumbai after his arrest. His lawyer Gaurav Parker claimed that the anchor was assaulted by two police officials who went to arrest him, adding that his family members were also pushed around. Later on Wednesday, the journalist was remanded to two weeks in judicial custody.

The Bombay High Court is likely to take up Goswami’s bail plea on Thursday, according to Hindustan Times. He has been booked in the abetment to suicide case under Indian Penal Code sections 306 and 34 (common intention).

A fresh first information report was filed against Goswami for allegedly assaulting a female officer during his arrest. He has been charged under Sections 353, 504, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code in this FIR. These sections deal with charges such as assault of a public servant, breaking public peace and criminal intimidation.

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