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Monday, August 15, 2022

Unprecedented attack on press freedom by Mumbai Police: FIR lodged against entire Republic TV editorial staff!

In an unprecedented attack on freedom of press by Mumbai Police,  Mumbai Police has filed an FIR against the entire editorial team of the Republic TV network. Top editors and all 1000 employees of the network have been booked by the Mumbai Police for a serious non-bailable offence for ‘incitement to disaffection among members of the Police Force and defaming Mumbai Police’ – under sections 500 and 34 of IPC.

This latest development comes as part of an investigation launched by controversial Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, working at the best of the NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena coalition govt, in the ongoing fake TRP Scam. Singh explicitly targeted Republic TV for bribing viewers to increase their Television Rating Points (TRP) in a press conference, even though the FIR lodged on the scam by Hansa Research Group Private Limited, the company responsible for installing and maintaining the Bar-O-Meter of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), mentions India Today channel and does not contain Republic’s name at all!  Not just this, even the remand copy and the statements of individuals arrested so far in the TRP scam don’t mention Republic TV, and instead name India Today!

The genesis of the witch-hunt against Republic TV by the Maharashtra government goes back to searching questions asked by Arnab Goswami of the Congress top brass over the shocking Palghar Sadhu lynching. Senior NCP leader and Minority Development minister Nawab Malik was recently heard saying ‘Arnab could commit suicide’ – a chilling remark from the representative of a state govt. already facing uncomfortable questions over an alleged cover-up of the ‘suicide’ of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his ex-manager Disha Salian.

A sting conducted by Republic TV in the Mumbai Congress HQ revealed that a special team was constituted to target and shut down the network.

Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami responded to the criminal FIR lodged against his team –

“For the first time in Indian history, an FIR has been filed against every editorial staff of a network. This means that 1000 employees of the Republic Media Network have been booked by the Mumbai police. They (Mumbai police) say ‘How can you air the Hansa report?’ and we said, ‘we will not reveal our sources’. Hence half an hour ago, Param Bir Singh instructed to file a case against all Republic editorial staff. The staff who are part of the production team, graphics team, promos team – we produce the news together.”

Mumbai Police has also issued a notice under Section 91 of CrPC to Republic TV, asking the network’s CFO Sundaram to submit details of every transaction and detail of every journalist with the Network since its inception within 12 hours. The details sought by the team include costs of coffee vending machine, air-conditioning equipment, furniture, gardening, makeup, suits and even hairbrush, toilet paper, tissue papers, A4 paper and other stationery! Param Bir Singh has reportedly brought in the Economics Offences Wing to probe Republic TV.

Another development in the whole issue was a fake TRP case registered in Lucknow by an advertising company promoter, which the UP Govt. recommended transferring to CBI. Fearing that CBI would subsume the Mumbai fake TRP case too in their investigation, Maharashtra government withdrew its general consent given to the CBI to probe cases in the state.

Journalists of Republic TV have been illegally jailed and harassed by Maharashtra police, top executives like CEO, CFO and others have faced multiple rounds of questioning totalling more than 100 hours. If anyone wanted a reminder of how press was squashed during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, this is it.

But the worst part has been the cynical celebration of Republic TV’s harassment by the rest of the media fraternity, especially the English-language print, TV and digital outlets that fall in the Durbari (Congress/anti-Hindu/pseudo-secular) camp.

Republic TV and Arnab Goswami are fair-weather friends of Hindus, at best. Their journalism style – loud, sensationalist – is no different from what many other channels exhibit. But the way they are being hounded should be a grim reminder to all Hindus of the fate that awaits them if the pseudo-secular, anti-Hindu cabal represented by likes of Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi, Akhilesh & Tejaswi Yadav, Mamata, Communists etc. gets anywhere close to power again at the centre. Judiciary too is showing where its natural inclinations lie – no suo motu action was taken by courts over this brazen attack on press freedom, and the Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a petition filed by Republic asking them to approach the Mumbai High Court instead.

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