Indian Journalists Arnab, Nidhi, & Ghai Start The New Year On A Rough Note

Indian Journalists Arnab, Nidhi, & Ghai Start The New Year On A Rough Note

2021 didn’t exactly give the best of starts to Indian journalists, as prominent names were entangled in different problems whether due to WhatsApp, Harvard, or even the capital market. Let’s take a look at what happened in the case of each.

Crux of the Matter

CNBC Show Host Fraud
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently banned Hemant Ghai, his wife, and his mother from the capital market for alleged “fraudulent trading practices”.

Ghai was CNBC Awaaz show host. The CNBC group has sacked him from the show after the SEBI announcement. SEBI also directed to seize the proceeds of ₹2.95 crores generated by fraud and banned him from providing investment advice till further notice.

What Was The Fraud?
As per reports:

  • Ghai purchased shares in accounts of his wife and his mother a day before recommending on the show.
  • Sold shares immediately after the market opened on the recommendation day.
  • Made significant benefits from the change in price caused by his recommendations.

Harvard Invitation
On 13 June 2020, journalist Nidhi Razdan announced her resignation from NDTV. She announced joining as “Associate Professor teaching journalism as part of Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences”.

The Catch
As per Joshua Benton, director of ‘Nieman Journalism Lab’ at Harvard University:

  • Harvard has “has no school of journalism, no department of journalism, and no professors of journalism”.
  • Only related section is “Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: Journalism” – even that has “no full-time journalism faculty”.

Razdan later claimed that she was a victim of a “phishing attack”, and filed a complaint with the Delhi police cyber cell.

Chat-Gate
1000+ page WhatsApp chats between Arnab Goswami of Republic and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta were recently leaked amidst the ongoing TRP manipulation scam. As per the purported chats:

  • Then Union Minister of I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore ‘kept it [DTH matter] aside on Arnab’s asking.
    Republic TV and Zee Media allegedly used the DTH service of DD to reach viewers without paying it.
  • Dasgupta requested Goswami to get him a job at PM Office due to the latter’s ‘connection’ with Government.
  • Goswami called India TV anchor Rajat Sharma “cheat… [getting] away by fudging the BARC system”.
  • Goswami stated “This attack we have won like crazy” over Pulwama attack as his coverage apparently got his channel more ratings.
  • Goswami asked Dasgupta months before launching Republic TV to “take care of disti” (sic) [distribution] in alleged ratings manipulation. Dasgupta replied, “Very very well covered, much ahead of times”.
Curiopedia
  • Harvard has more alumni, faculty, and researchers who have won Nobel Prizes (161) and Fields Medals (18) than any other university in the world. Students and alumni have also won 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes, and 108 Olympic medals (46 gold), and they have founded many notable companies.
  • Arnab Goswami resigned as editor-in-chief of Times Now on 1 November 2016, citing editorial differences, lack of freedom, and newsroom politics. On 16 December, Goswami announced his next venture — a news channel called Republic; the name was later changed to Republic TV.
  • Rajat Sharma has interviewed more than 750 guests on his show Aap Ki Adalat. In 2015, Sharma was awarded with Padma Bhushan for his contributions through Journalism.

Kanojia, Kappan And Other Media V/S State Cases

Kanojia, Kappan And Other Media V/S State Cases

After spending a week in jail post arrest by the Mumbai Police, Arnab Goswami was granted relief by the Supreme Court today. With India’s Press Freedom Rank being as low as 142, there have been incidents of media being muzzled by different state governments in recent. Let us look at some of media v/s state cases.

Crux of the Matter

Siddique Kappan

  • Arrested by Uttar Pradesh police.
  • Arrested while he was on way to Hathras to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit teenager.
  • Charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act – accused of “conspiring” against the state.
  • Not allowed to meet lawyers or family as alleged by his wife.

Prashant Kanojia

  • Arrested recently for alleged fake social media post about “Ayodhya’s Ram Temple”.
  • Recently released after 80 days in prison.
  • Also arrested in 2018 for allegedly sharing the video of a woman wanting to marry UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Asad Rizvi

  • Alleged assault by UP Police.
  • Incident occurred while Rizvi was covering Hathras protest.
  • Also alleged attempts by Police to damage his phone and equipment.

Sameet Thakkar

  • Arrested for “objectionable” comments against Aditya Thackeray – son of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.
  • Allegedly used the term ‘Baby Penguin’ in one of his tweets.

Pawan Kumar Jaiswal

  • Arrested after making a video of midday meal in Mirzapur.
  • Video showed children being provided only salt and roti (bread) for midday meal in Mirzapur district (Uttar Pradesh).
  • Arrested for “criminal conspiracy” and defaming State Government.

Media v/s State In Lockdown
Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG) claims that 55 journalists were arrested or got FIRs between March 25 and May 31 during the lockdown. These arrests/FIRs were allegedly for their reporting on the Covid-19 situation in the nation.

As per a report of the Thakur Foundation:

Curiopedia
  • Justice Chandrachud has consistently upheld that “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy”. He led the SC bench that granted Arnab Goswami bail after his arrest by Mumbai police saying, “If this court does not interfere today, we are travelling on the path of destruction.”
  • India ranked 142nd in the Press Freedom Index in 2020. Norway and Finland ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the list.
  • Arnab Goswami has a Y level of security that includes round-the-clock protection from around 11 personnel and 1 or 2 armed commandos for close proximity protection.
  • Arnab’s father, Manoranjan Goswami is a retired Indian Army officer and a BJP member, who has contested as a BJP candidate in the general election, from Guwahati.
  • Prasar Bharti is India’s largest public broadcasting agency which comprises Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).

Arrest Of Arnab Goswami & Media V/S State

Arrest Of Arnab Goswami & Media V/S State

With Arnab Goswami of Republic being denied bail, let us look at the beginning of his tussle with the Maharashtra Government.

Crux of the Matter

Bail Rejected
Bombay High Court rejected the bail application of Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV. Goswami and 2 others were arrested on 4 November and was put in judicial custody till 18 November.

Goswami was arrested for alleged abetment of the suicide of Anvay Naik, an interior designer. His arrest was declared “prima facie illegal” by the Court.

Prison Shift
Goswami was moved to Taloja jail after he was allegedly found using mobile phone in judicial custody. Several terrorists have been imprisoned in Taloja jail, with the list including Abu Salem, aides of Ajmal Kasab, etc.

Arnab v/s Maharashtra Timeline

Palghar Lynching

  • April 2020: 2 Sadhus and their driver were lynched in Palghar – allegedly on fake rumours of child kidnapping.
  • Goswami claimed “woh (Sonia Gandhi) khush hai ki santon ko maara gaya, jahan pe unki sarkar hai” (Sonia Gandhi is glad over murder of Sadhus in her regime).
  • FIR was filed against Goswami for comments on Gandhi and alleged attempts to “communalize” the incident.
  • Controversy as Goswami was questioned for over 12 hours amidst nationwide lockdown.

Bollywood Tussle

  • Legal notice was sent to Goswami from Shiv Sena in August.
  • He was accused of allegedly connecting CM Uddhav Thackeray and other members to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
  • September: 2 Republic journalists were arrested for allegedly “trespassing” on Uddhav Thackeray’s farmhouse.
  • October: Pradeep Bhandari (Republic consulting editor) alleged arrest after his coverage of demolition of Kangana Ranaut’s office by BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation).

TRP Scam

  • Republic was named as accused in the ‘TRP scam’.
  • Republic claimed that the complaint of ‘Hansa’ research didn’t mention Republic and mentioned India Today instead.
  • Republic then claimed that an FIR was filed against the “entire editorial team of the network”.

Suicide Abetment Case

  • 2018: Architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik died by alleged suicide.
  • Reported suicide over alleged “non-payment” of dues by Arnab Goswami.
  • Suicide note mentioned that Goswami’s Republic, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartwork owed him ₹83 lakh, ₹4 crore and ₹55 lakh respectively (total ₹5.4 crores).
  • Though the case was closed in 2019, it has been reopened in 2020 in which Goswami, Shaikh, and Sarda were arrested recently.
  • Republic claimed to have paid 90% of all dues 2 years ago and alleged “repeated attempts” for settlement.
  • They also claimed to have transferred the dues to the bank account of Anvay’s company in July 2019, which were returned due to the “inoperative” status of the account.
Curiopedia
  • India ranked 142nd in the Press Freedom Index in 2020. Norway and Finland ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the list.
  • Arnab Goswami has a Y level of security that includes round-the-clock protection from around 11 personnel and 1 or 2 armed commandos for close proximity protection.
  • Arnab’s father, Manoranjan Goswami is a retired Indian Army officer and a BJP member, who has contested as a BJP candidate in the general election, from Guwahati.
  • Prasar Bharti is India’s largest public broadcasting agency which comprises Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).