How Arnab Goswami became India's most loved and loathed journalist
Arnab Goswami, India's most controversial TV anchor, grabbed the headlines when he was arrested recently over a suicide case. He denies the charges and has been granted bail, but the case only adds to his polarising personality.
"In a country where 80 per cent of the population is Hindu, it's become a crime to be Hindu," Arnab Goswami had declared on the prime time show of his Hindi language TV station Republic Bharat in April.
"I ask today that if a Muslim cleric or Catholic priest had been killed, would people be quiet?"
He was speaking about an incident where two Hindu "godmen" travelling in a car, and their driver, were lynched by a mob.
According to reports, the Police said that the men had been mistaken for child kidnappers. The attackers and victims were all Hindu. But for nearly a week, the Republic network ran programmes claiming the victims' Hindu identity was a motive for the crime, echoing an unfounded theory floated by some members of India's governing BJP.
However, several supporters of the journalist took to the streets after his arrest.
Several critics believe viewers of his network are being drip-fed false information, divisive and inflammatory views, and propaganda for the Hindu nationalist- its six years in power have been linked to the increased marginalisation of India's 200 million Muslims.
It can be seen that Goswami is certainly not the first to adopt this manner of coverage. However, he has made it more loud and aggressive than ever before. The tone is often polarising, tapping into India's religious fault lines.
In April, Arnab accused a Muslim group-- Tablighi Jamaat-- for violating lockdown orders, and called on PM Modi to "lock up their leadership".
In the early days of the pandemic, the group's gathering in Delhi was linked to at least a 1,000 covid cases across the country. The event's organisers insisted the congregation had been held before the government imposed a lockdown, a claim which has now been upheld by many courts in India.
However, misleading broadcasts and other networks triggered Islamophobic reactions on social media.
"If there is one culprit for what we are going through as a nation in an aggravated manner, like it or not, it is the Tablighi Jamaat," Arnab said in one of his many contentious segments.
Later, Arnab Goswami was arrested over the death of an architect who designed his studio. However, the journalist and Republic TV network has denied allegations that they owed money to the architect.
Many believe he was targeted because of his strident criticism of the Maharashtra government, led by the Shiv Sena, an estranged former ally of BJP.
Arnab Goswami's political clout became evident when several BJP leaders came out in his support, calling his arrest an attack on press freedom in India.
It was a striking claim because dozens of journalists over the past few years have been arrested or detained in states governed by the BJP. Many have been slapped with charges such as terrorism and sedition.