Midnight ambush: Attack on Arnab Goswami and wife

Artwork by Sanyukta Tamhane [Instagram handle: @_artysan_ ]

It is difficult to keep a neutral perspective when it comes to journalists like Arnab Goswami especially when he is exceptionally vocal about his allegiance. He is by far one of the most controversial and popular journalists to have graced the Indian media. Several self-proclaimed left-wingers have been quite candid about their opinion of Arnab Goswami and his statements. These debates have often taken a turn to a more hostile debacle rather than a healthy discussion. For instance, his airline incident with a famous Indian comedian. It was one of the many instances that just goes on to prove that controversy follows Arnab Goswami and vice versa.

On 23.04.2020 at midnight, another incident transpired concerning Goswami, reported by him, and this time, it involved his wife and it was worse than before. Just a day prior to this incident, the journalist called out the president of the Indian National Congress (INC) Sonia Gandhi, inter alia, on her silence on the mob lynching incident that befell Palgarh, a small town in the state of Maharashtra. His statement attracted a lot of attention and hate from the supporters of INC when the president of INC remained silent. The criticism was to the extent that Rajasthan’s Chief Minister tweeted about Goswami calling him insane. It was just political and personal opinions flying about until midnight, when Goswami reported that he and his wife were driving home from the studio and their route was blocked by two strangers on a motorcycle. One of the men walked up to the driver’s side and repeatedly bashed in the window until he realized that it was rolled up. He then took out a liquid from his pocket and poured it all over the window when Goswami found an opportunity to escape. A couple of hours later, Goswami recounted the incident on a video and posted the same on twitter. He also stated in the video that the two men on motorcycle allegedly confessed to the security guards of his building that they were sent by the INC to attack him.

In this incident, much to everyone’s relief, no one was hurt. It was a clear attack on Goswami and his wife by two goons. But this incident begs a couple of questions. The answers to these questions would be convoluted and not effortless. These questions, along with facts will also require the application of ethical and moral code.

Firstly, is it fair to say that Goswami could have avoided the attack had he not made the statement against Sonia Gandhi specifically? Perhaps he could have. But as a journalist, it is his job and duty to report the truth and question authorities for their actions and inactions. Despite his indicative allegiance to BJP, in a bigger picture, he does have a right to question INC or specifically Sonia Gandhi. Some journalists have questioned our Prime Minister when he was silent on certain matters. So, Goswami cannot be held responsible for the attack merely because he asked the president of the INC a question. It was a controversial statement, that’s a given, but was it unfair? No. There were several possible responses to his statement one of them being no response at all. In all fairness, Sonia Gandhi is still keeping mum on everything that is being spoken about her. So maybe the attack could have been avoided, but that does not mean Arnab Goswami will stop asking questions.

Secondly, could there be a possibility that the attack on Goswami and his wife was just to intimidate him and the goons did not intend any harm? Perhaps. But the real question is, that is it important to understand whether the intention was intimidation or grievous hurt? The answer is no. No matter what the intention was, the attack was unwarranted and goes against every law made in consonance with human rights.

Thirdly, was it fair for Goswami to conclude that the attack was arranged by Sonia Gandhi merely because his security guard alleged that the attackers confessed to him that INC sent them? No. Now, one of the most fundamental principles of journalism is to deliver the truth to the extent of the accuracy of that truth. It is understood that Goswami and his wife must be devastated after the attack, but except for tittle-tattle, there is not actual hard-core evidence to prove that the INC plotted against Goswami and sent the goons to attack him. Moreover, even if there is a hint of truth in this statement, there is no evidence to prove that Sonia Gandhi made this happen. There is no accuracy in this conclusion. This only incites hatred in his followers which only digs a deeper grave beyond hope for political equilibrium. It just goes on to prove that publicly trashing a political figure’s image was uncalled for on Goswami’s part.

Lastly, is it possible that the attack was arranged by some supporters of INC and the parties accused had no idea about the same? Perhaps yes. But the only way to come to any such conclusion is by corroborating evidence, which has not been substantiated just as yet.

It is safe to say that what happened with Arnab Goswami was gruesome and appalling. It puts the entire journalism community at threat because now, any statement made by them for or against any political party/personnel could potentially warrant a physical attack on the speaker. It beats the entire idea of freedom of speech and expression and fundamental rights conferred by the Constitution of India. This incident, and every element of it, deserves scrutiny and everything that went wrong in the aftermath of the same, requires rectification. Why? So that fair reporting can be ensured.

Copywriter by profession, lawyer by education.