There cannot be a worse precedent: says Dr. Annurag Batra on Arnab Goswami’s arrest

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Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of e4m & BW Businessworld group, writes why staying silent on the absolute misuse of state machinery and power is not an option for anyone

Cacophony is better than silence. It is time, my friends in media, to speak up. What can only be described as a Black Day for our democracy can hit home for any of you tomorrow. In our democracy, the rule of law prevails supreme – and it applies just as much to media professionals and journalists. And so, for all of us in the media and in the country, waking up to the disturbing visuals of Arnab Goswami being dragged and manhandled as he was arrested should have come as a rude shock. The sight of him being manhandled the way he was in full view of cameras left me upset and in shudders.

Even as the controversy over TRP and the fight amongst news channels & media organizations has gone on unabated over the last eight weeks, we at exchange4media have consciously sought to, and maintained, a factual and balanced stance. We have followed our belief of doing the right thing for the right reason in the right manner.

However, what happened today is scary. We may not agree on the approach, but if this could happen to Arnab in Mumbai, what stops it from happening to a media owner in NOIDA or to an editor, journalist or any other media professional in any part of the country.

There cannot be a worse precedent.

Let me quote the temple of democracy, our highest court Supreme Court, from October 2, 2020.

“In order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased.”

The manhandling of Arnab and subsequent arrest is a very bad example of the worst kind of police excesses and absolute misuse of state machinery and power. And it is our duty as media professionals to raise our voice against it whether we like a certain kind of journalism or not.

As says Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it.”

I am reminded of this today. I would stand up for any professional, journalist, media owner irrespective of whether I agree with their editorial stand. If a prominent media personality like Arnab can be subjected to this kind of brutality and abuse of state power, we must as media stand up for that.

Staying silent is not an option for me or us, nor should be an option for any of you.

There are various investigations in progress against other prominent media owners. One shudders to imagine whether this could happen to them in future. They should all support Arnab so that the Indian media’s spine is not broken.

The defenders of democracy and enforcers of rule of law have shown themselves in the poorest light.

We, Indian media professionals, may believe in diverse viewpoints and or ideologies, but this is the time to unilaterally condemn what has been done today and help Arnab in being safe and getting justice.

I am reminded today of this thought Mahatma Gandhi said many decades ago.

Dr. Annurag Batra is a serial entrepreneur and a mentor to many successful entrepreneurs. Dr. Annurag Batra, a man of many talents and someone who adorns many hats, is also an author, an angel investor and a TV show host and the founder of the iconic exchange4media group and the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of BW Businessworld group. Dr. Annurag Batra believes if you make your hobby your profession, you don’t have to work and life is a blessing.

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Annurag Batra

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