Republic TV founder and controversial anchor Arnab Goswami on Friday crossed limits of decency while attacking acclaimed Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah for his comments on the growing curb on the freedom of expression in India. Goswami, who founded Republic TV with the help of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrsekhar, called him ‘illiterate’ and implied that he was helping anti-India forces with his video.
Starting his prime time show, Goswami said, “One fortnight after fear mongering about tolerance in India, Naseeruddin Shah has declared an open support for Urban Naxals. He’s the face of Amnesty India’s propaganda video for 2019.”
The debate started with a video report on Shah’s comments, made last year in the aftermath of the murder of Bulandshahr cop Subodh Kumar Singh. The report also carried Modi’s response to Shah’s comments, made during his interview to news agency ANI. In that interview, Modi had called Shah’s comments as part of a propaganda ahead of the elections.
The Republic TV reporter termed Shah’s comments as alarmist and polarising.
Goswami continued his tirade against the veteran actor using the age-old whataboutery. But on Friday night, his whataboutery was focussed on the alleged persecution of minorities in Pakistan. He asked, “Will Naseeruddin Shah release a video about a systematic genocide and elimination of all minorities, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Jews and several sects among Muslims also in Pakistan? Will he do that? Or is his hatred only focussed against India.”
Some of his guests sought to remind Goswami that Shah’s comments were aimed at India’s values of pluralism. But Goswami called him illiterate saying that he should read facts ‘the next time he opens his mouth.’
“Arre Naseeruddin Shah, nahi jaante ho to moonh mat kholo (Oye Naseruddin Shah, don’t open your mouth if you don’t know the facts.)”
Goswami lost his temper when a panelist told Goswami that Anupam Kher was a ‘bad actor.’ This was in response to a question that Goswami angrily posed, asking why Naseeruddin Shah was quiet on the protests against Anupam Kher’s The Accidental Prime Minister and Indu Sarkar by Madhur Bhandarkar.
In a video, released by Amnesty India, Shah on Friday had said that that those who demanded rights were being locked away and their office premises raided, while journalists were routinely being silenced under the current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Shah had also said that a wall of hatred was ‘being erected’ and ‘innocents are being killed.’
Last month, Shah had courted controversy for saying that he felt angry over how the death of a cow was being given more importance than the murder of a police officer. He said that he worried about his children in the new India.