Senior journalist and owner of Republic TV Arnab Goswami was taken into custody by Maharashtra Police officials on Wednesday morning in connection with a two-year-old abetment to suicide case. He was picked up from his home by a team of Raigad police, while Mumbai police officials were also present.
Goswami was arrested along with two others – Feroz Sheikh and Nitesh Sarda – also named in the suicide note left by an interior designer and architect Anvay Naik and his mother. Naik and his mother are said to have ended their life after allegedly blaming Goswami, Sheikh and Sarda for not clearing their dues owed to him.
According to officials of Mumbai Police, the architect and his mother committed suicide in Alibaug over alleged non-payment of dues by the channel Republic TV and the two others for work done for each of their companies.
Following the incident, Naik’s wife Akshata pursued the case and also filed a complaint against Goswami and published multiple videos on social media, pleading the state government for help.
Who was Anvay Naik and what is the case?
In May 2018, Anvay M Naik and his mother Kumud M Naik, were found dead at their home in Alibaug. Naik was the managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited and is survived by his wife Akshata and daughter.
The Raigad police investigating the case reportedly said it was likely that Anvay first strangulated his mother and later killed himself by hanging. During the investigation, the police found a suicide note written in English where Anvay blamed owners of three companies for not paying his dues, forcing him and his mother to take the extreme step.
The three people named in the suicide were Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX and Skimedia and Neetish Sarda of Smartworks, all owners of companies for which Naik’s firm did some projects. Naik in his note detailed the money owed by each firm – Republic TV owed him Rs 83 lakh and the other two firms owed him Rs 4 crore and Rs 55 lakh respectively.
In April 2019, the local Raigad police investigating the case filed a summary report claiming they did not find enough evidence to support the allegations against Goswami and the two other accused named in the note. Following this, Anvay’s wife Akshata and daughter Adnya took to social media to post videos, blaming the then Bharatiya Janata Party ruling Maharashtra state government for not pursuing a case against Goswami.
In May 2020, months after a Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena alliance formed the state government in Maharashtra, Congress took up the issue on Twitter and tweeted a video made by Akshata, asking for an investigation against Goswami.
On May 26, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh also tweeted that he had ordered a re-investigaton into the case.
“Fabricating facts, 90 percent of all amounts due settled: Republic TV”
Republic TV on May 7 issued a statement denying all charges about the non-payment of dues and thereby abetting Naik’s suicide.
Reiterating its stance, Republic issued a statement that it has paid over 90% of the amount due to deceased’s company as per the work orders issued over two years ago. “The remaining sum was to be paid on completion of the pending work, which has since not been undertaken,” added Republic.
It said that they have full correspondence that AGR Outlier Media Pvt Ltd made repeated attempts to make the balance payment to CDPL for full and final settlement of all claims.
Further, Republic TV said that despitle multiple meetings, emails, leters and Whatsapp messages reaching out to CDPL, they didn’t receive any concrete reply from Akshata Naik and Adnya Naik. It stated, “In fact, the entire balance due was transferred to the bank account of CDPL in July 2019, but was returned because the account is inoperative.”
The channel added that the Naiks were asking Republic to make payments to third party vendors, contradicting the contractual clauses.
The channel also alleged that Congress leaders sharing the video was a “vindictive” attempt by the political party against Republic “for functioning as an independent news network”.
Following Goswami’s arrest on Wednesday, the channel reiterated its stance and released a statement claiming, “Arnab Goswami’s arrest in a mocked up suicide case is an attempt to regurgigate a closed case in a motivated, malice-ridden and vindictive attempt to punish Republic Media Network for speaking truth to power”
What is the current situation of the case?
The Maharashtra police on November 4 arrested all three people named in the suicide note, Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda. Indian Express quoted Sanjay Mohite, Inspector General, Konkan Range confirming the arrest and saying, “Arnab Goswami is currently being taken to Raigad. He shall be interrogated by the investigating officer and the further course of action will be decided accordingly.”
Anvay’s wife Akshata and daughter Adnya have held a press conference thanking the state government and claimed that Republic is wrong in claiming that all the dues have been paid.
Is the case linked to the recent TRP case against REPUBLIC TV?
No, this is a case filed in Raigad and being investigated by the Local Crime Branch of Raigad police. This case has no connection to the recent case filed by the Mumbai police against Republic TV for allegedly bribing officials of a TV ratings firm for boosting TRPs of the channel.
While a team from Mumbai police crime branch was present today to arrest Goswami, it was an assistance team since the jurisdiction of the accused’s residence is under Mumbai police limits. All three accused — Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda — were arrested by joint teams of Mumbai police crime branch officials and Raigad police from Worli, Jogeshwari and Kandivali.
Recent Cases Against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV by Mumbai police
Mumbai police, Maharashtra govt and Arnab Goswami-led Republic TV have been involved in a war of words, FIRs and legal cases since the last few months. The Mumbai police first registered a case against the channel and five others for an alleged pay for TRP boost scam. The channel denied all the allegations and also aired a show that claimed several Mumbai police officers were allegedly against Police Commissioner Parambir Singh which led to another FIR against Goswami and the major chunk of Republic’s editorial team.
The channel has also been named in an FIR which alleges they communalised various incidents in the city and Maharashtra including migrant labourers protest outside Bandra station and the lynching of three people including two sadhus in Palghar district.
Recently, Shiv Sena leaders moved two breach of privilege motions in the legislative assembly and legislative council respectively against Arnab Goswami.
(This story first appeared on BoomLive.in)