Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami on Wednesday night confirmed that he had received a defamation notice from former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for controversial comments made on his show.
While discussing the topic of terror funding on his programme, Goswami said, “By the way, I have some breaking news. Mehbooba Mufti has sent me a legal notice saying that ‘how do you say that I do lavish shopping trips in Mumbai?’ Well, I am a journalist Mehbooba Mufti and I have my sources. I am told that you and your family do lavish shopping trips in Mumbai. If you want to file a case against me, then go ahead. If you think you don’t, then tell me you don’t.”
The programme in question is Goswami’s debate, broadcast on 5 July, when he had accused Mufti of undertaking lavish trips to Mumbai for expensive shopping. He had said, “…aur Mehbooba Mufti jo hai who first class fly karti hai Mumbai mei, aur lavish shopping trips, you know, you know Sushil Pandit, itna spend karti hai, itna spend karti hai, jo logoun ne dekha hai! Itni…Aur jab aati hai to 5 Star Hotel mei, sara unke liya, pura…pura floor book hojata hai! Itna paisa kahan se ata hai. Ap log Kashmir ke logoun ka khoon kab tak chuseinge…(And Mehbooba Mufti travels first class to Mumbai for lavish shopping trips. You know Sushil Pandit, she spends so much and when she returns to her 5-star hotel, the entire floor is reserved for her. Where does she get so much money from. For how long will you continue to suck the blood of Kashmiri people? ”
The legal notice sent by Mufti’s lawyer said that ‘the aforementioned defamatory and false statements made by’ Goswami on his TV channel had been ‘widely seen, circulated, and shared on other social networking sites and web portals.’
“Your statements project my client as a dishonest person who has made a fortune by deceitful means and is now spending it extravagantly. Right at the onset my client outrightly denies these brazen allegations. My client has had an impeccable political career and never ever has faced any criticism where she has been projected as a dishonest person. Your statements on the said programme are full of lies and even while speaking you are not coherent and it clearly seems that you are making up these statements. Furthermore, the failure on part of both you and your channel as a whole to support these claims without any proof shows the malicious intent behind these statements and further proves that your allegations against my client are baseless,” Kashmiri Life portal quoted the notice.
Mufti has demanded an unconditional apology within three days of receiving the notice and broadcast the same on Republic TV ‘with the same prominence and frequency as the impugned statements.’
“By this legal notice you are further informed, in clear terms, that upon your failure to comply with the aforementioned directions within three (3) days from the receipt of this notice, my client will be constrained to initiate both civil and criminal actions against you and your channel in accordance with law. In such a situation you are cautioned that the entire legal recourse that my client may initiate against you shall be entirely at your own risk and cost,” the legal notice concluded.