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Are we into emergency, again?

During the Lockdown, if anyone news channel who rouse in terms of viewership is the Republic Media. Republic Media through its English channel Republic TV have pushed others back by becoming number 1 for a significant number of time. Recently, even the Hindi channel of the media called Republic Bharat came first in it’s segment in terms of viewership. Critic of Republic Media often referred it to as a loud, chaotic media network with least focus on the information while calling it a biased network which often takes it’s own stand which is against the fabric of journalism.

However, second & third tire cities watch Republic TV on a regular level. The Hindi channel Republic Bharat has become a common household channel by replacing even the entertainment channels at specific slots in these cities along with villages which shows the people at large is actually liking the journalism Republic is doing.

Today when India is watching Sushant Singh Rajput’s case on TV, the most credential information comes from Republic. The reason is because Arnab owned channel is apparently the only channel which is openly criticizing state government for their misgovernance despite of the fact that there have been multiple FIRs against Republic & Arnab Goswami lodged by Maharashtra Government in past few months. This didn’t stop Republic and they did an enormous job in doing investigative journalism in Sushant’s case. One may definitely have the option not to like it and have a view opposite to the majority. However, no one got the right in India to stop a News Channel from reporting something independently. Even the Supreme Court in it’s various judgements have observed that Media is the fourth pillar of our democracy and max is that it should self monitor itself.
But what is happening in Maharashtra?

Republic Media Network’s reporter Anuj Kumar, video journalist Yashpaljit Singh and Ola cab driver Pradeep Dilip Dhanavade have been taken into illegal police custody by the Maharashtra Police. The reporting team was following a journalistic lead in an investigative assignment in Karjat in Raigad.

They were denied legal recourse and are is being harassed in Jail and pressurised to reveal their story. This intimidation of the journalist of Republic is an assault on the constitutional right to free speech.

Such actions on Media took place only during Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. At that time, Freedom of Speech and Expression were suspended and thus no media houses could report freely and if anything was reported in contrary to Government’s views, Journalist were thrown in jails without legal rights. After about 25 years, same thing is being seen in Maharashtra. Are we into emergency again?

Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Republic Media in one of the show on Republic Bharat says:
“They’re intimidating that we’ll see you when you come to Mumbai. What will you see? I’m in Mumbai, I live in Mumbai and I dare to ask questions from Mumbai Police! Who are you?
Right to question has been granted to us by the soil & constitution of this country and that Mumbai belongs to each & every Indian.
I’m throwing an open challenge to Uddhav Thakrey (CM, Maharashtra), Sanjay Raut (MP, Shiv Sena) & Anil Deshmukh (HM, Maharashtra) for a 1 to 1 interview. If they have guys, they should come on my show.”

This is the right of each and every media channel to ask questions and challenge politicians for interviews. Now Maharashtra Government and the ruling parties may refuse the challenge thrown by Arnab Goswami however they have got no right to intimidate his channel or his fellow journalists.

This incident seems part of a larger pattern by the Maharashtra government to try and block the Republic Media Network.

No other network could come anywhere close to Republic TV & Republic Bharat today in terms of viewership. Is this the reason why their journalists have been put into custody?

No other network could come anywhere close to Republic Media with respect to their investigative journalism. Is this why state machinery is haunting them day and night?

No other network could raise their voice like Republic and reach to the common people. Is this why parties with no support are doing such activities?

No other channel could make a strong hold in both Hindi & English views ever in the History. Is this the reason why those in power in Maharashtra have become fearful and insecure?
As a common citizen, it is definitely against the rights of every citizen who are being represented by Republic- day & night. We must stand against this injustice by the state of Maharashtra. Because today it’s Republic, tomorrow it could be us. The clear example is the demolition of Kangana Ranaut’s office of Maharashtra Government merely because she spoke critical of state government. And the demolition took place in her absence despite of the stay order passed by the Maharashtra High Court. Nothing could be a bigger example of Fascist regime than these acts of Maharashtra Government formed by three parties who didn’t get the maximum number of seats.

“Cong or BJP, whichever party ruled here, Maharashtra was never like this. SSR, Kangana, and now Republic’s reporter. Thackeray ko paap lagega, paap”- says Twitter user @suesproject.
The current Maharashtra Government and it’s works is definitely against the rights of people. Maharashtra Government was formed by three parties who didn’t get the maximum votes(seats) and that they are probably taking revenge against the people who didn’t vote for them. Otherwise, why would a government act against the people they’re ruling?

Savio Rotragues, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Goa Chronicle talked about the current situation in Maharashtra:

“You(Uddhav Thakrey) have turned Maharashtra and the beautiful Mumbai into a fascist state. With the attack on Republic. The problem with a fascist is that they assume that power is limitless and perpetual. That unfortunately is fallacy. Media has a role in society. Don’t trample it. Republic is the extended family of GoaChronicle and we’re standing for Republic against Maharashtra Government into this”
Maharashtra Government must understand the fact that if you want that Media should show good of you, rather than haunting them, you should actually start working for the betterment of society and Media will be obliged to show that. Because the only work of Media is to put the correct picture.

The sequence of events, the nature of action and the motivated attempt to silence the reporters who pursue investigative stories reeks of vindictive, malicious and vengeful action by the Maharashtra government against Republic Media Network, and its reporters.

Those who were demanding freedom of speech till yesterday have gone mute against this injustice today. Are we into emergency, again?

 

Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com

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