The Congress has hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party over its criticism of Arnab Goswami’s arrest in Mumbai saying its “selective outrage” on press freedom is “shameful” and the law will take its own course in the case against the Republic TV editor-in-chief.
Goswami was arrested from his residence in Mumbai for allegedly abetting the suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer. Several Union ministers and senior BJP leaders have criticised the Congress over Goswami’s arrest and called it an “attack on freedom of press”.
Asked about Goswami’s arrest and the BJP’s criticism of it, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said she was “actually very shocked with the selective outrage of the BJP of the sections of the government”.
“Why are they silent when Prashant Kanojia is jailed for a number of months just because he exposed a scam where children were being served salt and chapati in Mirzapur?” the spokesperson asked, referring to the journalist who was arrested by the UP Police.
Addressing a media briefing, she raised several other questions.
Why, she asked, is the BJP “selectively silent” when sedition charges are slapped against journalists and when a case has been filed against (Scroll) journalist Supriya Sharma because she exposed the pathetic state of affairs in a village in Varanasi.
“And when a reporter who exposed the PPE kit scam in Uttar Pradesh is jailed and faces serious sedition charges instead of action been taken against those responsible for the scam,” she added.
“So this selective outrage is extremely unwarranted, is shameful and they (the BJP) should be ashamed of saying anything,” she told reporters.
Shrinate also hit out at Goswami, saying she herself had been a journalist for almost two decades and alleged that he had brought complete “disgrace and shame” to journalism.
“What he does in the garb of journalism is not journalism, what he does in the garb of journalism is the work of a BJP frontal,” Shrinate said.
“To accuse people, to hurl abuses, to make any sort of allegations, to use the language that he does. Is he judge or jury? What sort of journalism is he doing in the garb of running a TV channel,” she said.
Shrinate said the BJP should be the last one to be talking about freedom of the press.
She also accused the BJP of controlling the media through advertisements and through “intimidation and fear”.
“I am reasonably certain that wherever Congress is in government or we are in alliance, people will not be punished if they are absolutely innocent. I also believe that law will take its own course even in this case,” she said.
The Congress believes in the independence of institutions and has never compromised their independence or autonomy, Shrinate said.
Goswami, who was seen being pushed into a police van, claimed he was assaulted by police at his home.
BJP president J P Nadda and various senior Union ministers, including Amit Shah, slammed Goswami’s arrest, describing it as a “blatant misuse of state power” and reminiscent of the Emergency.