As Poochta Hai Bharat Messiah Arnab Goswami’s Paul Landowski-style pose flashed a million times on Republic TV, one after the other Arnab-clone anchors, commentators and gasbag know-alls raised a very pertinent point: that the Supreme Court of India has come to the aid of a citizen hounded by state power.
The Supreme Court slammed not just one but all high courts in general for not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied.
Mark the import of Justice D Y Chandrachud’s words in court: “If this court were not to interfere today, we are travelling on a path of destruction of personal liberty undeniably…Is this is what our state governments will do to those who have to be nailed…? … If state govt’s target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a message that SC is there.”
Strangely, ironically and unexpectedly, all at the same time, the episode and high drama have prompted many to draw comparisons with the plight of Sanjiv Bhatt and his incarceration in a 30-year-old case.
Now, Bhatt’s son Shantanu Sanjiv Bhatt, has come forward to respond to those drawing comparisons between Arnab Goswami case and that of his father, wondering why did it take “the arrest of an abhorrent, cacophonous” Goswami “to bring to the attention of the people of this sovereign nation, the plight and fight of an upright and courageous police officer.”
Minutes after Arnab Goswami walked out of jail on November 11 late evening, and then landed up at his studio, hailed by his slogan-shouting staffers and got busy cutting an assortment of cakes with loads of icing and announcing his plans to launch scores of vernacular channels and an international channel, too, he remembered to let the nation know one more key grievance of his. The rival channels, he said, did not even tell their viewers the news about his release. Republic TV’s anchors had earlier made the same point throughout the evening.
It’s a sentiment Sanjiv Bhatt, his family and friends can well empathise with. Not many media houses in this country will be willing to bring forth what Sanjiv Bhatt’s son has to say about the odious comparisons between his father and Arnab Goswami’s incarceration.
In an open letter to this Indian police officer now behind bars, well known crusader of often lost causes, Harsh Mander, had last year said the treatment meted out to him “holds a mirror to the craven collapse of the integrity and independence of India’s institutions of criminal justice.”
At Punjab Today, we worry about how the mirror will reflect our values and courage. There are other worries, of course, but none as important. Hence, we have taken an editorial decision to bring to you this write up by Shantanu Sanjiv Bhatt in the belief and understanding that when a better history of our times will be written, the role of the Bhatt family will be judged by souls more kindred than those who find a messiah in Arnab Goswami’s prophetic stretched-arms pose.
This is Shantanu Sanjiv Bhatt,
Over the past few days, I have seen people draw comparisons between my father, Mr Sanjiv Bhatt and Mr Arnab Goswami. The recent arrest of Mr. Goswami has reignited talks about my father’s vindictive and unlawful arrest and incarceration in a 30-year-old case.
What truly surprises and saddens me, is the fact that the it took the arrest of an abhorrent, cacophonous and vile creature like Mr. Goswami to bring to the attention of the people of this sovereign nation, the plight and fight of an upright and courageous police officer, who has, and continues to relentlessly fight for justice at great personal and professional cost.
Never once did dad think about himself or his family or the consequences that we would all have to face, because for him the fight for justice has always been bigger and more important than himself, or any of us.
Following the arrest of Mr Goswami, social media platforms witnessed a torrent of posts with pictures of dad and Mr. Goswami, side by side, being tagged as a hero and zero respectively. As much as the posts and the support warms my heart and strengthens our resolve to fight.
It also makes me realise, how short-lived and callous public memory is, nowadays. That photo moves me. Not because of the comparison, or the support it signifies. But merely because, when I look at that photo, I see my father, I see a man who has stood by his principles no matter what, I see a man who has not cowered under pressure, a man who has not and will never give up, no matter the consequence.
I see not just an honest and brave police officer, but a father, a husband, a son and most importantly, an upright citizen of this sovereign democratic republic, who dared to question the vile acts of this draconian regime, who stood up for truth and justice and dedicated and sacrificed his life and career to fight for the victims of hate and violence propagated by this regime.
It is 4am and I am writing this, because I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep, because the thought of my father being away from his family and home for the past 2 years, bothers and saddens me.
It bothers me that the people for whom my father has been fighting incessantly have forgotten him, only to be remembered when someone is released or someone else is arrested. And it should bother you too, it should move you, it should make you feel ashamed as a collective community, that we think of this brave and upright police officer, only when it suits us and our cause.
My father and his illegal arrest and incarceration is not a cause of convenience, that one takes up and talks about, only when it suits one’s agenda. My father and my family have, and continue to sacrifice for the citizens of our once democratic republic; we have sacrificed our home, our peace, our sleep, our very being and most importantly our happiness, just because we believe in not remaining silent in the face of injustice meted out to any individual.
Do you not think, that it is time that we do the same for a family who has suffered enough?
I ask today, with utmost humility and respect, and perhaps a little disappointment towards my fellow citizens-
Do we not owe Sanjiv Bhatt and his family more than just a social media post or a forwarded message on WhatsApp?
Have we reduced someone who sacrificed his all, for a cause much bigger than him, to just a mere comparison on social media?
I request and appeal to you all, as the son of Sanjiv Bhatt – That please prove me wrong, please restore my and my family’s trust and faith in the citizens our nation… that they haven’t forgotten Sanjiv Bhatt, that they haven’t turned him into a cause of convenience.
I implore you to please come together and help us bring our father back home.
Do you not think it is time Sanjiv Bhatt resumes his fight as a free man, but this time not alone, but with the strength of crores of Indians along with him?
We may be bloodied and battered… But we remain unbroken, unbent, unbowed.
Shantanu Sanjiv Bhatt
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