#ArnabChatGate: Are there different laws for different people?

While comedian Munawar Faruqi is still in jail despite police not having any evidence against him, yet Arnab Goswami is free despite preliminary evidence pointing to violation of Officials Secrets Act
#ArnabChatGate: Are there different laws for different people?

Four days ago, the Mumbai police allegedly leaked WhatsApp chats between former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta and Republic TV executive editor Arnab Goswami.

These chats found its way to social media and within a few hours, social media users were horrified at the conversation between Goswami and Partho. Though the chats bore evidence of the alleged collusion in rigging ratings, however, two important points have caught the attention of the netizens.

Goswami’s reaction to the Pulwama attack is first.

On February 14, 2019, merely hours after one of the biggest attacks on Indian troops resulting in the martyrdom of 40 CRPF soldiers, Goswami sent out a message to Partho saying, “This attack (Pulwama) we have won like crazy.”

Seeing Goswami’s reaction, netizens called him as ‘anti-national’, a word his channel has used time and again to attack those having an alternative opinion. However, more than this reaction to the Pulwama attack, many people are shocked by Goswami’s prior knowledge of the 2019 Balakot airstrike.

On February 23, 2019, Goswami informed Partho that “something big will happen”. When Partho asked if it was something to do with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Goswami replied in the negative. He said that something “bigger than a normal airstrike” will take place. Three days later, news breaks that India has conducted a massive airstrike in Balakot as a retaliation to the Pulwama attack.

From politicians to journalists, from senior citizens to youths, everyone has one question in this regard – How did Goswami know about an airstrike days before it took place?

It is not just about Goswami’s prior knowledge of the airstrike, allegedly leaking it to Partho can get the former into deep trouble. The Congress party has written to Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh demanding action against Goswami for violating Official Secrets Act. Leaking such information also compromises national security.

Apart from the outcry of people demanding action against the Republic TV Editor, it is not difficult to point out that Goswami is currently a free man though the chats were released four days ago.

One question netizens have asked regarding Goswami – Are the laws different for Goswami comparing it to other citizens?

Generally, when a person is caught leaking military secrets, the central government jumps in and that person is taken into custody for questioning. However, as mentioned above, nothing of this sought as happened in Goswami’s case so far.

Indian Youth Congress's Srivatsa YB asked are there separate laws for Goswami and separate laws for activist Umar Khalid who is in jail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly conspiring the Delhi 2020 riots.

Summary

Srivatsa also made an interesting comparison between Goswami and stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqi. In a tweet, Srivatsa said there is zero outrage against Goswami from either the Centre, judiciary or the media whereas, Faruqi is in jail on the assumption that he will be telling a joke.

Faruqi was arrested for allegedly mocking and insulting Hindu deities along with Home Minister Amit Shah. The Indore police arrested Faruqi after the son of a BJP MLA filed a complaint who “thought” Faruqi and his friends made objectionable statements, thus “hurting religious sentiments”.

Ironically, the Indore police confessed that they do not have evidence that Faruqi made such statements. His bail plea was denied and, he continues to be in jail. Now, Uttar Pradesh also wants to arrest Faruqi for hurting religious sentiments.

While one man continues to be in jail without any evidence of him committing a crime, another is walking free despite preliminary evidence pointing to violation of Officials Secrets Act.

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