Soon after Rhea Chakraborty was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on drug charges linked to her former boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput’s death probe, a journalist took to Twitter to announce her resignation from news channel Republic TV. Citing “ethical reasons,” she shared how the news channel had been running an “aggressive agenda” to “vilify” Chakraborty in the high-profile case that has grabbed eyeballs throughout the nation.
Shantasree Sarkar wrote on Twitter that it was “high time” she spoke out against the channel, despite being under notice period. Over a series of tweets, she explained how the channel has been pushing a certain agenda and covering details. She wrote that “sources close to both families agreed #Sushant was suffering from depression. Of course it didn’t suit #Republic agenda.”
I was taught #journalism to unearth truth. In #shushant case, I was asked to take out details of everything but not truth. As I investigated, sources close to both families agreed #Sushant was suffering from depression. Ofcourse it didn't suit #Republic agenda.
— Shantasree Sarkar (@sarkarshanta) September 8, 2020
Journalist Claims No Links To Money Laundering Angle
She went on to recount how she had been appointed to investigate the “financial angle in the case.” Chakraborty and her family had been accused in an FIR by KK Singh, Rajput’s father, of laundering money worth Rs 15 crore from his son’s account. According to India Today, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which was looking into this angle of Rajput’s death, hasn’t yet found any concrete evidence against Chakraborty in this matter.
Sarkar confirmed that “the account details of #Rhea father was accessed, which didn’t get remotely linked to the agenda of siphoning of #sushant money for their two flats. Of course, this also didn’t suit the agenda!”
Journalist quits Republic TV. Not the first one to come out in public and talk about the channel’s focus on Arnab Goswami and a ‘darbar’ like newsroom culture
She further commented on how her “colleagues started harassing any random people who visited Rhea’s apartment” and “thought shouting & pulling a woman’s cloth will make them relevant in the channel!” Sarkar even claims that amidst the “trauma” she was facing on “how a woman is shamed publicly,” she “was even punished for not bringing out biased stories.”
With a “justice for Rhea” hashtag, she claims that she took a stand tweeting, “When time came for me to sell my morals to vilify a woman,” while openly declaring “#journalism is indeed dead in #RepublicTV.”
Other Ex-Republic TV Employees Speak Up
On August 27, another Republic TV employee Tejinder Singh Sodhi had taken to Twitter to announce his resignation from the company. In a 3500-word resignation letter, he elaborated on his reasons behind quitting the channel. In it, he said, “I am telling you this out of my personal experience that everything here starts with Arnab and ends with Goswami… This was not the Journalism that I had joined Republic for, reporters were being used to do the hit job on behalf of Arnab.”
A source who has previously worked with Arnab Goswami said to Newslaundry, “What he’s built with Republic TV is not a newsroom, it’s a durbar… He’s filled the newsroom with young kids who cannot stand up to him…”
While several people on Twitter are lauding these journalists for leaving the Republic newsroom, some others are of the opinion that this show of ethics comes too late in the game. One user wrote, “No sympathy for anyone who perpetuated hate and now acting righteous.”
In support of her ex-colleagues from Republic TV, journalist Shweta Kothari has written, “They have shown exemplary courage, put their careers at risk to speak up. However a section of people is hell bent on vilifying them for joining Republic TV… When @republic was launched in 2017, we were all told that the venture will be different… None of us privately condoned the journalism Republic did, but were too low in the hierarchy to effect a change… These reporter who are finally putting their foot down and bringing you the truth, need your support and encouragement, not your judgment.”
SheThePeople reached out to Republic TV for a comment but their response is awaited.