New Delhi, Nov 4 (PTI) BJP president J P Nadda and senior Union ministers on Wednesday slammed the arrest of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami by the Mumbai Police, with Home Minister Amit Shah describing it as a 'blatant misuse of state power' which reminds of the Emergency.
Goswami was arrested in Mumbai for allegedly abetting suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer, a Mumbai Police official said.
'India didn't forgive Indira Gandhi for the Emergency. India never forgave Rajiv Gandhi for his assault on press freedom. And now, India will again punish Sonia-Rahul Gandhi for their brazen and intimidating use of state power to get equal with journalists,' Nadda tweeted.
Asserting that every person who believes in a free press and freedom of expression was furious at the Maharashtra government's 'bullying and harassment' of Goswami, the BJP chief said, 'This is yet another instance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi-directed antic of silencing those who disagree with them. Shameful.' Goswami, who was seen being pushed into a police van, claimed he was assaulted by police at his home.
Reacting to Goswami's arrest, Shah said the Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again.
'Blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy. It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and will be opposed,' he tweeted.
Several Union ministers, including Prakash Javadekar and S Jaishankar, described Goswami's arrest as 'an attack on the freedom of press'.
'Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up...Shades of the Emergency,' Jaishankar tweeted.
In a series of tweets, Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the arrest of senior journalist Goswami was 'seriously reprehensible, unwarranted and worrisome.' 'We had fought for freedoms of Press as well while opposing the draconian Emergency of 1975,' Prasad said.
He said while Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have targeted the Modi government 'through motivated charges of attack on institutions', yet they are completely silent when their own government in Maharashtra is 'blatantly suppressing freedom of Press.' He claimed it to be a 'textbook case of hypocrisy.' Information and Broadcasting minister Javadekar said it is reminiscent of 'Emergency days'.
He also hit out at the Congress, saying its 'fascist and Emergency mindset' is on display in Maharashtra.
Javadekar said, 'We condemn the attack on press freedom in Maharashtra. This is not the way to treat the Press.' WCD Minister Smriti Irani tweeted that if those in free press don't stand up in support of Goswami then they are tactically in support of fascism.
'Those in the free press who don't stand up today in support of Arnab, you are now tactically in support of fascism. 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?,' she tweeted.
Later in a press conference at the BJP head office here, Sambit Patra dubbed the arrest of Goswami as a 'black day' for journalism and said that 'this is not only an attack on the fundamental rights of the press, the reporters and the editors, but also on the core of our democracy.' The BJP spokesperson said at a time when the country is fighting against COVID-19, the Congress-backed government in Maharashtra is arresting journalists, particularly those who have questioned the state government for its failures in handling the pandemic. PTI UZM ASK ACB NAB JTR SMN