Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Friday castigated the Mumbai Police for its alleged vendetta-driven approach towards the Republic Media Network. In an indirect reference to the OpIndia report, Athawale expressed hope that the people of Mumbai will not buckle under the pressure of the police. Maintaining that it is not correct to attack the independence of Republic TV, he called upon the Mumbai Police to change its approach.
Speaking exclusively to Republic TV, the RPI(A) supremo also revealed that he would apprise Union Home Minister Amit Shah of this development. Weighing in on the new FIR against the entire editorial team of Republic for allegedly defaming Mumbai Police, the Union Minister stressed that media is the fourth pillar of democracy. According to him, the Mumbai Police’s action could not be justified.
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale remarked, “I feel that if Mumbai Police says, nobody will say that we have taken Rs.500. Because the people of Mumbai are well acquainted with the police. The people of Mumbai are not those who will buckle under pressure. If the police is trying to exert pressure, then it is not a good thing. I will bring this to the Home Minister’s notice. It is not good to attack the independence of Republic TV. It is imperative for the Mumbai Police to change its approach. The Mumbai Police’s probe influenced by vendetta is not right. Media is the fourth pillar of democracy. If one-two persons have committed any wrongdoing, you can file a case against them and the matter will be decided in court. But to initiate an inquiry against everyone is unjust and this action by Mumbai Police is not correct.”
The witch-hunt against Republic TV
Addressing a press briefing on October 8, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh accused Republic TV and two other channels of rigging TRPs by paying viewers to keep their channels on for longer periods. However, the 7-page Hansa Research report and the original FIR dated October 6 made no mention of Republic TV, Republic Bharat, Republic World, or any affiliate of the Republic Media Network. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police has focused on uncovering the source of the Hansa Research report.
Earlier in the day, the police asked Republic Media Network CFO Sundaram to submit details of every transaction and detail of every journalist associated with the Network. The details sought by the team include costs of coffee vending machine, air-conditioning equipment, furniture, gardening, makeup, suits and even hairbrush, toilet paper, tissue papers, A4 paper and other stationery. Moreover, an FIR against the entire editorial team of the network has been filed under various sections of the Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act 1922 and the Indian Penal Code.