Police in Maharashtra on Saturday filed an FIR against Arnab Goswami for abetment to suicide of an interior designer in Alibaug over the weekend.
Police said that Anvay Naik committed suicide by hanging himself at his bungalow in Alibaug. The cops booked Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks for abetment of suicide. The suicide note reportedly said that Republic TV owed Rs 83 lakhs to Naik, while IcastX owed him dues over Rs 40 lakhs and Nitesh Sarda of Smartworks owed Rs 55 lakhs to the deceased. Naik’s wife alleged that she had contacted Goswami’s accountant on many occasions, asking for the repayment of the said amount.
Soon, the news spread with lightening speed, dominating the editorials of media outlets up and down the country. Republic TV denied the allegations by issuing a statement and blamed the ‘vested interests’ for exploiting Naik’s suicide.
That summed up the polarising figure that the founder of Republic TV has become in the last few years, mostly due to his biases in favour of the ruling BJP. Among the media outlets that prominently carried the news was Times Now, Goswami’s former employer, where he worked as the editor-in-chief until 2016.
However, the news flash by Times Now did not appear to go down well Goswami’s supporters, many of whom considered it in poor taste. Times Now’s flash on social media had said, “Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief and managing director of Republic TV, has been booked under charges of abetment to suicide.”
Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief and managing director of Republic TV, has been booked under charges of abetment to suicide https://t.co/KM8zY3ItH8
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) May 6, 2018
The focus on ‘editor-in-chief and managing director of Republic TV’ was what appeared to have irked the supporters of Goswami. One user, Ankit Dwivedi, wrote, “You can also write it as Arnab Goswami ,founder and ex Editor in chief of @TimesNow who made Times Now no 1 eng channel has been booked.” Another user commented, “How come when Arnab’s Reporters were attacked by political parties and their goons it was not a news to you as a morale and professionalism but when a case filed you highlight with photo? Is it not cheap? It reveals to viewers that you follow jealousy, Inferiority Complex. Sry (sic).” User Anand said, “Pity times now we know u losing market share.” And such comments critical of Times Now’s phrasing of headlines were aplenty.
It’s not clear whether the phrasing of the news flash by Times Now was indeed indicative of the acrimony that existed between the two. But what’s clear is that Goswami’s departure from Times Now hadn’t taken place in a cordial environment. As reported by Janta Ka Reporter, Goswami had faced humiliation on the last day of in office as Times Now’s editor-in-chief. He had planned to host a mega show by inviting some of the top Bollywood artists as his guests for his last show. But, the channel’s CEO, MK Anand, had abruptly stopped him from doing so.
The acrimony between the two became public and ugly as Times Now officially filed a criminal case against Goswami for theft. The complaint was filed with the Azad Maidan Police Station in Mumbai under sections 378, with sections 379, 403, 405, with sections 406, 409, 411, 414 and 418 of the Indian Penal Code, besides Section 66-B, 72 and 72-A of the IT Act, 2000. The offences included theft, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of property and infringement of IPR of BCCL by using the same on Republic TV on multiple occasions on 6 May and 8 May, 2017.
Times Now’s undisputed status as the market leader was dislodged after Goswami lodged his Republic TV with the help of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. It’s been nearly a year of Republic TV’s existence and Times Now has not been able to dislodge its newest competitor from the number one position.