On Wednesday, 4 November, Republic founder and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018.
Several BJP leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goyal and others condemned Goswami’s arrest.
“Attack on press freedom”, “shades of emergency”, “let’s not support fascism”, “a counter productive move in democracy”, “freedom must speak up” - Twitter was flooded with messages attacking Maharashtra government and showing solidarity for Arnab.
Wait a minute... Is it really the first time one’s “freedom of speech” has been attacked or a journalist has been arrested? NO!
Let’s throwback to... well, not a long time ago when journalists were arrested for social media posts. Yes, that’s happened too.
Journalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested twice for TWEETING!
Similarly, Manipur TV journalist Kishore Chandra Wangkhem was arrested for social media posts criticising the BJP and PM Modi.
Masrat Zahra, a photojournalist in Kashmir, was booked under UAPA (Yes, anti-terror law) for uploading “anti-national” social media posts.
Tsewang Rigzin, a Leh correspondent of ‘Daily State Times’, was arrested too - for a comment he didn’t even make! Want to hear this bizarre story? Regzin runs a Facebook page called 'Ladakh in the Media'. Someone somewhere commented against a BJP parliamentarian. Since the cops couldn’t find the person who commented, they arrested the admin instead.
Anyway, let’s move on from social media dissent leading to arrests…
Mumbai-based journalist Rahul Kulkarni was arrested for airing ‘fake news’.
Really?! Is that still illegal?
It’s 2020! Switch on any channel and you’ll get the answer.
Dhaval Patel, editor of ‘Face of Nation’, was charged with sedition for allegedly publishing a speculative report on BJP changing the CM in Gujarat.
Honestly, the list is endless. But you get the point, right?
Yes, freedom of speech has been attacked but the definition of “freedom of speech” surely changes depending on who’s giving the speech.
PS: Let’s not even get into how democratic voices of dissent are being suppressed in the country. Let’s leave that for some other day, some other time.
Editor: Ashish Maccune