Arnab Goswami

Nine questions about Arnab Goswami’s ‘Y’ security cover that the nation should be asking

Agencies: It is a sign of the times we live in that the elevation of journalist Arnab Goswami to the status of a VIP with “Y” security has evoked more amusement than alarm.

According to a report in The Hindustan Times, quoting an unidentified home ministry official, 20 guards, including two for “close proximity” security, will protect the editor-in-chief of Times Now news channel. The report adds that the security was necessitated by a threat perception of his comments on Pakistani terror groups.

When a journalist is under threat, however reviled or lauded he or she may be, the media profession does need to sit up and ask a few questions. However, since one is unsure whether the assignment of this much-coveted security status will make it to the Newshour debate, here are a few issues the nation needs to debate:

  1. How did the Intelligence Bureau arrive at this threat perception? Did it receive or intercept any message from said terror organisations?

  2. Which organisations were offended and have issued threats against the Times Now editor-in-chief?

  3. Why was the security category fixed at “Y”? Why not “Z” or “Z plus”?

  4.  Which particular comments made by the Times Now editor had seemed more threatening (and while we are at it, it would help to know which were less threatening).

  5. Did the threat perception affect only the editor in chief of Times Now or all the staffers and workers of the news channel? After all, surely the staff need to be protected in the event of an attack? What plan does the Union Ministry of Home Affairs have for the safety and security of other members of the Times Now team?

  6. And what about protection to the regular invitees in Times Now debates? Are they safe?

  7. How much is taxpayer money being allocated to this very important task and is it being utilised wisely?

  8. We are told Mukesh Ambani pays Rs 15 lakhs for his Z-security on acost-reimbursement basis. Will the Times Now editor-in-chief and his employers, Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd., be similarly burdened?

  9. Are the security personnel trained and equipped adequately? Is a check done periodically on the quality and efficacy of their bulletproof vests? Are they given non-lethal weapons too, like the pellet guns so much in fashion these days?

In the interests of media freedom these questions do need to be asked. Of course, there are other questions that are equally important to ensure the safety and security of journalists all over India.

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