A video clip of Republic TV’s team of reporters and camera persons following Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday has outraged many on social media.
The video being shared widely on social media platforms shows Tharoor walking to his car after a press conference, followed by a swarm of journalists and cameras. While all the four reporters in the video were from Republic TV, there were a few other camera persons too.
“Why are you running, Mr Tharoor?” quizzes one reporter, while another shouts, “We will keep asking our questions. Why aren’t you answering our questions? Why are you trying to run away?” A third voice calls the former Union Minister a “coward” and "killer" for dodging questions on the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram had earlier refused to answer Republic TV’s questions at a press conference in New Delhi. Refusing to take the channel’s questions, Tharoor remarked, “There is a particular channel in this country, the digital equivalent of a toilet roll, which I have sued for criminal and civil defamation. This is why they are harassing us here. The court case will settle what we think of this people.”
Following the incident, Tharoor took to social media to hit out at Republic TV, calling the harassment “puerile”.
Their harassment was puerile. One so-called journalist even asked "why do you have an evil laugh?" Another called me a murderer&added "sir"! https://t.co/QVmTVm5BaM— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 3, 2017
When asked about the video, a journalist at Republic TV said that there were camera persons from other channels and they in turn had pushed Republic TV journalists.
Tharoor, however, found support from fellow Congress leader and MP Divya Spandana, who shared the video and called Republic TV’s journalists “goons”.
Many others also condemned the harassment Tharoor was put through.
How is this journalism?! This is harassment, plain and simple. https://t.co/OdCvoqD0y3— Arun Chembilath (@ichembilath) August 3, 2017
The video surfaced even as the Delhi High Court is hearing a petition filed by Shashi Tharoor against Republic TV and its founder-editor Arnab Goswami on the channel’s alleged misreporting on the death of his wife. On Friday, the High Court observed, “Arnab Goswami and the channel have to respect Tharoor’s right to silence on the issue.” The court also sought the channel and Arnab’s reply to the Congress leader’s plea.
Following the court’s observations on Friday, Tharoor took to Twitter to state that his duty was to cooperate with the police and other authorities and not with a “banana republic” channel.
My duty is to co-operate with the police, courts, legally-constituted authorities. Not w/ a witch-hunt by a "banana republic" channel. https://t.co/nScgkNaBzl— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 4, 2017
Meanwhile, journalists from Republic TV also took to Twitter to say that they will not be intimidated.
While Tharoor had filed an application before the Delhi HC on Thursday seeking to restrain Republic TV from making defamatory publications against him, he has also filed a defamation suit against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV in May following the channel’s “expose” on Sunanda Pushkar’s death.
The Delhi High Court had on May 29 observed that the TV news channel can air stories by stating the facts related to the investigation into the death of Pushkar, but cannot call the MP a "criminal".
The court also stated that they (Arnab and Republic TV) cannot use such language and had sought response from the journalist and channel on the defamation suit by August 16.