On the Arnab Arrest Saga

I’ll start by asking you to read this article. The link is below.

https://thewire.in/media/arnab-goswami-arrest-defence-television-journalism

I liked the article. The author is idealistic and believes in principled journalism. She makes no bones about the fact that she dislikes Arnab’s brand of journalism and her description of her response to Arnab’s arrest is amusing. The author has intellectual integrity.

My response to the Arnab’s arrest case is as follows:

What makes Arnab’s brand of journalism possible is the dysfunctional criminal justice system that makes getting convictions for slander and libels in a court of law difficult. A second reason is that the legal profession is there to help offenders observe the letter of the law while acting against its spirit. All residents of India need to live with these disadvantages.

But what should be the role of the State (i.e the Government) in dealing with such situations?

I was watching the Republic channel and one of the debaters on the show said that the State was harassing Arnab and wanted to drive him to suicide. This may be an exaggeration but if it happened to be true it would be nothing short of an act of war. I would regard it as such. Teaching an errant person a lesson may be acceptable but trying to drive him to suicide is not.

But I think that it would be foolish to think that such acts like the State driving somebody to suicide do not happen. I am sure it has happened many times.

Sun Tzu  in The Art of War gives the following advice – Kill one to terrorise ten thousand. Such acts may be necessary at times of war but can the State declare war against one of its own citizens. Sun Tzu also says that Humanity and justice are the principles on which to govern a state.

But practically speaking institutions of the Government like the police are engaged in battles against its own fellow citizens all the time. The criminal justice system exists to punish acts by either the police or the criminals that are against the law. Again the fact that the justice system in India is pretty much dysfunctional leads to problems.

If you do decide to war against one of your own citizens then be honourable and observe the conventions of war. Give him a fair warning so that he has a chance to defend himself. If the police acted in the spirit of the applicable laws this would automatically happen. But with the current state of the judicial system there are many departures from the ideal.

Lastly there is the question regarding what right we (or anyone in the government) have to judge whether a person (in this case Arnab) has the right to live or not. There are courts of law to sentence a person if he or she commits a crime. There is an elected government that is running the country and God has created and is running the Universe. Except judges in a properly constituted court of law none of us are in the business of judging people. It is said in the Bible – Judge not that you be  not judged. Another related quotation from the Bible is – God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. We need to accept all the unpleasant facts of life (like Republic TV) with humility. The Universe is under no obligation to change itself to suit our likes and dislikes (and neither is Arnab).

Socrates was sentenced to death for corrupting the youth in his day. The people who wanted Jesus crucified likewise were people who did not like what he was saying. The laws have evolved to protectpeople against arrogant and opiniated persons who think that they can do a better job of running the Universe than God Almighty himself.

I have made some unrelated points and not offered any solution to the whole Arnab mess. But I hope I have given you some food for thought.

I’ll end here. Please explore this site for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. The link to contact me is below.

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2 Comments

  1. The question is, has freedom of speech and expression become obsolete? I’m not a fan of Arnab’s. But I do feel an increasing sense of unease that what was a country where you could write to the editor and question the government, ( something many of us used to do very regularly, )and sometimes even effect a small success, is becoming a police state where people are afraid to raise their voices, to marry or to dress differently? Even to do good work or spread a good message for fear of being singled out and harassed or ridiculed like Sonu Sood (for helping migrants during lockdown) or Kohli (for asking people not to burst crackers during Diwali). And it’s so much easier to do that thanks to this bloody social media which can do so much good but does so much more harm instead by spreading disinformation or trolling (the new word for slander) or what have you.
    Personally I don’t care a damn about Arnab. He’s a pain in the you know what.
    What’s worrying is that he got away with bail when there are any number of wronged people still languishing in jail and being subjected to physical and mental torture. Including intellectuals like Dr. Binayak Sen, who are branded as Naxals or terrorists for daring to speak up, or Gauri Lankesh who was murdered.
    Intolerance and hatred seem to have become a trend and are fuelled and kept alive by the powers that be.
    Where do we go from here?

    1. The reason why many wronged people are in jail is because of the dysfunctional justice system and not because of Arnab. You cannot deny him his rights for that reason. It would have been worrying if even he had to spend time in prison despite all the resources and money at his disposal.

      The reforms to the justice system will have to wait until it becomes a reason for victory or defeat in the elections. Until we have a large enough votebank demanding reforms it is not going to happen

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