For the past year, many journalists have resigned from Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV and no reputed journalist is joining. Why? Many pointed out to PGurus about Arnab Goswami’s abusive and inhuman nature. The latest was the resignation of Republic TV’s Jammu & Kashmir Bureau Chief Tejinder Singh Sodhi. Sodhi’s letter exposes the shocking internal work culture of Republic TV and the abusive nature of Arnab Goswami. As the letter accessed by PGurus is self-explanatory, we are leaving it to the readers to analyze themselves about the sad plight of Journalism in Republic TV. The 3600-word-long letter exposes how Arnab used the services of Reporters to deal with Mumbai Police to hush-up the abetment to suicide case against him. The letter reproduced below exposes the murky affairs inside Republic TV.
From: Tejinder Singh Sodhi <sodhi.tejinder@………com>
Date: Sun, 30 Aug, 2020, 9:19 pm
Subject: Re: Resignation
To: Honey Kaur <Honey.Kaur@………..com>
Congratulations on your promotion, trust me getting promoted from HR head to Vice President of the company would have been a major achievement if it was not Republic, but in Republic there is only one supreme leader and his wife who micromanage everything, everybody else is a filler irrespective of the designation they hold.
I am telling you this out of my personal experience that everything here starts with Arnab and ends with Goswami, you don’t trust me ask this to the previous HR Head. Have you ever seen a company where the entire HR team left in a period of just less than three years? Time is a great teacher and I honestly pray that you don’t have to go through what everyone else who left this company had to go through, but nonetheless my good wishes for your promotion.
I was asleep when I got a call from Arnab’s wife who before the launch of this company was just a bureau reporter at a pro congress newspaper, she told me that she and Arnab were happy with my work and have decided to promote me, I was surprised what does being happy mean if any promotion has to be given it has to be merit-based. I just wanted to disconnect the phone as the husband and wife kept bragging how kind and generous they were to the staff because at a time when other news outlets were firing people reducing their salaries, they were promoting their staff.
I was told that with the promotion my responsibilities would increase and I can guide the desk how to go on with stories, this was another surprise to me given the fact that this was exactly what I had been doing for the past two years after every sensible person at the desk had said goodbye. This promotion had a rider and it was that the salary has not been revised for now and it would be done at a later stage, but the supreme leader of republic wanted that we should spread the word as how generous Arnab was to promote the staff. (how should we tell the people as the company had earlier threatened the staff to remove republic from their social media bio), but as you know for him it is image that matters so he wanted me to specially post this on social media. I did that for a day or two and then after I realized my mistake, I deleted that post.
We all know that Arnab has been making huge money, the people in his cotree also make huge money, but the people who do the actual work are given peanuts. The entire staff of Republic TV had been anxiously waiting for the past two years to get a salary hike. Two years ago, the process of appraisal was started, forms were submitted but then nobody heard back from them. While he did not give the staff any hike, he used that money to launch a Hindi Channel and hired new staff for that, the Republic TV Staff was left high and dry.
Back to August this year, when I got the email from you that I have been promoted, I wanted to respond to that email right away but decided to wait for a few days and If you remember it was a few hours prior to my putting up my papers I sent you that email turning down the promotion offer. If you remember I had mentioned in my resignation that I will send you a detailed mail outlining the reasons for my resignation, so here is that email. I had never applied for any Job at Republic TV, I was very much happy and satisfied with the company I was previously working with. It was the day of my wedding in 2017 when someone from Arnab’s office called me to say that Arnab wants to talk to me, I was in Gurudwara waiting for my Pheras to start. I thought someone was playing a prank on me so I snubbed him and asked him to call back after a few days.
To my surprise I got the call back in a few days as I was made to speak to Arnab on WhatsApp video call, he was very soft and polite and I too was excited because till date we had seen him on Television and this was for the first time we were speaking to each other. He shared with me the reason he left Times Now, he said how he was humiliated by the management on various issues and why he was not allowed to enter the studio for a month, he said that he is going to come up with a channel that would dismantle the Times Now empire, a David that would take on the mighty Goliath.
He told me that someone had recommended my name and he was keen to have me in his team. He promised that the Republic would revolutionize the TV news industry in the country and would question the people in power and be a channel that be the voice of the downtrodden, basically it would be a complete news channel. I told him that I come from Print background and have no experience in Television, he told me that he wants new faces and that Republic would be an organization which would be run by young professionals and his team would be young journalists only.
I can tell you with certainty that he is one of the greatest motivational speakers a man like me who had never thought of joining television decided to join his team. When it came to salary negotiation, he told me that for now as he does not have any money, he will hire me on the same package which I was getting at my previous employer with the assurance that as the company starts making money, he would double my salary. After I resigned my previous editor in chief offered me a hike of 20000 if I don’t leave, but being a man of my principles, I requested him to let me go as I had given the commitment to Arnab. Today looking back I regret my decision to join the Republic, he did not revolutionize Journalism, but he killed serious Journalism, reduced it to a joke and somewhere I too feel to be accomplice in that crime.
The Channel was launched and in its first week it went number 1 in TRP, we all were happy and excited because it was our hard work, the success did not come cheap our sweat and blood was mixed in it. I was happy that Arnab would acknowledge the contribution of the team, but it was Arnab everywhere, big hoardings came across the country, only acknowledging Arnab. Don’t trust me see the hoardings that came up in Delhi after the Hindi channel came No 1 in the TRP. After an initial few weeks, I realized that the Channel was all about Arnab only and he does not believe in teamwork or team efforts. It took me a few months to realize that for Republic everybody else was just a filler, who fills the vacuum of Arnab’s absence from the screen throughout the day and in the evening the stage is taken over by Arnab.
The realization did come that Arnab is a tree, under which no other tree can grow, because he can never tolerate anybody else becoming the face of the channel. He ensured by various means that everybody in the organization feels that everybody else is his rival. An incident happened where the Republic team was not allowed to cover the Congress Press Conference in Delhi, we were asked to protest outside the congress office in our respective states by wearing black bands. I was like wait what this is not the job of a journalist to protest against a political party, but we had no option, so everybody did that.
One fine day I get a call from someone on the desk (I won’t name that someone, but he was tortured to such an extent by Arnab that he suffered a major heart attack while sitting in the office) to go and hide near the house of the father of Sunanda Pushkar and then at appropriate time, he would tell me what has to be done. Why hide? They never trusted their staff, so till the last moment, we weren’t told anything. I went to the house and suddenly I was told to enter the house and shove the mic in the mouth of Ms. Pushkar’s elderly father and force him to blame Shashi Tharoor for “killing his daughter”, I tried to do so but when I saw her elderly father, I was in tears, he was weak, was not mentally stable, I told the desk, but they told me that Arnab is furious on me and he wants to get the father on camera to say that Tharoor killed his daughter.
I refused and left the place, not before speaking to their manservant who spoke good about Mr. Tharoor and Ms. Pushkar’s relationship, but that never went on air. Next day Arnab called me and shouted like anything, he told me that I had let him down, by not getting the father of Ms. Pushkar on camera to blame Mr. Tharoor. 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 reporter in UP was told to get a chase sequence with the then Chief Minister when he couldn’t he was told to jump the wall of his house to enter the premises and get that done. He said I would be shot by his security; he was pressurized by Arnab’s wife that he resigned the next day. As the money and power started coming in easy, Arnab became more arrogant and as he did not listen to anybody on TV, he did not even listen to his staff. He started humiliating them, shouting at them, abusing them, even physically assaulting them.
People who had joined him after leaving their well established and well-paying job at the time when Republic had no present and no future, started leaving him, some left because of the humiliation they were being meted out and some left because they realized that it was not the kind of Journalism that they were doing with him. Slowly everybody started leaving, first, it was the Reporter from Uttar Pradesh he was followed by the one from MP, then West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Bangalore and every other bureau resigned because of the editorial policies. When I speak to them, they say that we joined the Republic to do real Journalism and not to be stooges of a particular political party and do “hit job” on those who don’t agree with that political party.
They all realized that Arnab was using his two channels to settle his personal scores with his previous employers, his former colleagues and everybody else who disagreed with his shouting bouts. Almost all leading anchors of Republic left, we still remember how one of the best anchors was dragged out of the studio humiliated, he never returned. The people who were in his core team, who were known to be the right hand and mind of Arnab left him, they all are doing great in their professional life. They all decided not to disclose why they left the Republic, in the words of a former anchor, “he has the platform to build a fake narrative against you”.
That someone who had recommended my name was Mr. Aditya Raj Kaul, who had met me a couple of times in Jammu and had seen my work. Aditya Raj Kaul was the man behind several exclusive stories on Times Now and then in Republic, when Aditya and I covered the Sunjwa terror attack, I saw how well connected this man was. Arnab was lucky to have him in his team, for the full day it was Aditya who was on the television, from breaking news inputs to exclusive stories to interviews it was Mr. Kaul on Republic. We used to joke about that Arnab should rename the Republic TV as Aditya TV, Arnab was not doing any favor to him, but it was that every single story was being broken by Aditya. He was the backbone of the network, but one fine day we came to know that Aditya has resigned, till date I exactly don’t know what happened between Aditya and Arnab but given now we know Arnab well, it could be anybody’s guess, why he left.
Arnab being what he is could have never tolerated Aditya overgrowing him, hence Aditya’s exit from the network. After Aditya’s exit, the backbone of the channel was broken, we all tried to take the burden but it was really hard for the entire team to fit in his shoes. We tried our best but Arnab never acknowledged that. Let me take the liberty of taking a few more names, of all who left before you even joined.
Snehesh Alex Philip, is one of the well-known defense journalists of the country, before joining Republic he was the Pakistan correspondent of the premier Indian News Agency, he left Republic because of Arnab Goswami’s biased editorial policies and Arnab’s behavior towards the staff, even today reporters at Republic lift points from the copies of Snehesh.
Hari Haran used to be the Star Anchor of South India before joining Republic, he left in a span of a few months and the reason for him leaving is anybody’s guess. So far in my life, I haven’t come across a man who is as soft-spoken and so dedicated to his work as Parikshit Luthra, we all know why he left. Today he is doing amazing work.
Sakal Bhat, who was the prime-time anchor at Doordarshan for 17 long years joined Republic, but as Arnab cannot tolerate anybody to overgrown him, he can never tolerate that anybody else had the fan follower more than him, so she was cut to size. She left and once again joined Doordarshan, today again she is a Prime-Time anchor there.
Pooja Prasanna who left Times Now to Join Republic with Arnab, helped this company grow, she left her family for several weeks to help Arnab set up the studio in Mumbai, she worked day and night but today she is no longer with Republic, I again leave it for you to guess the reason.
Prema Sridevi who was once considered as the backbone of the network had to leave this organization, I still remember that during one conference call before the launch of the channel, Arnab told the team that he was nothing without Prema.
The list is endless, and everybody will find mention in my book soon. Will send you the first copy promise. As I write this I have come to know that several people have put up their papers in the past one week, as they were humiliated for not getting Rhea Chakraborty’s interview. While Arnab tried to maintain a moral high ground on TV against the rival channel for airing Rhea’s interview, he humiliated and harassed his own reporters for not getting her for the interview.
While today Arnab claims that Republic is the biggest network in the country, the reality is that they don’t have a single reporter in most of the states and in those states where people have resigned, no professional journalist is willing to join. In Delhi you don’t have beat reporters as nobody is willing to join, a crime reporter who cannot differentiate between the Airforce and Navy uniform is covering defense for them. He became webkoof when he aired two-years-old footage of the story that I had reported at that time and then he blamed the army for giving that fake video. He even shared a fake screenshot to show that a senior army officer had given the video to him.
For the past few days Arnab has been shouting about Nepotism, but I maintain that he should be the last person to do so, his wife (whose only qualification is that she is Arnab’s wife) is heading the operations of both the channels, one of his close stooges who has been recently promoted as Executed Editor News, his wife who was. research assistant has been made the Head of Digital Desk (because she is native of the place from where Arnab’s wife is), another man who is now promoted as Senior Associate editor and covers defense his wife is made input head of Hindi channel and her job is to keep an eye on the staff in Noida office and inform Arnab and his wife as who is sitting on his desk and who is not, so Arnab should stop lecturing people about nepotism.
Things were a bit different for me, as my only job was to target and speak against Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti which I did, my job to ensure to project them as anti-national and find fault in whatever they say, I did handle it very well. As I wasn’t comfortable speaking lies I changed my focus to defense as defense had always been my forte and I did many exclusive stories as well, but many senior officers used to tell me Tejinder you are a right person in a wrong company.
I am a married man, with a daughter and a family to feed, every month I had many EMIs staring at me, so I had to kill my principles to work with Arnab, knowing very well that it is not the Journalism that we are practicing in Republic. The final nail in the coffin happened on August 5, when the interview for which I had been trying for months together was handed over to another reporter because he belongs to the region where from Arnab’s wife is and that this Reporter helped Arnab to hush up the case of abetment to suicide for which he is facing an FIR in Mumbai.
Arnab called me soon after his show and started shouting and abusing, but now my tolerance had reached its precipice and I had to give it back to him in the same language with the same vocabulary, maybe with some extra words in Pure Punjabi which he will remember throughout his life. He gave the platform to a motormouth to abuse their fellow panelists, Arnab calls his staff a “piece of Sh*t” uses cuss words like MF and SF for them, so I thought it was opportune time to give him the taste of his own medicine.
Trust me from the day I resigned, everybody with whom I once worked or those who still work with Arnab have congratulated me and thanked me for being their voice. You know that some have resigned and some will leave soon. Arnab in the name of hiring young talent is exploiting them, giving them peanuts in the name of job, he is hiring young college graduates or people with zero editorial understanding at the desk so that there is nobody to speak or challenge his editorial policies, which are dictated by the WhatsApp messages from a particular political party.
Arnab has broken several Labor laws because he hired us for Republic TV (English Channel) then we were forced to work for Hindi channel also and then the dictate came that if you won’t contribute x number of stories a week for the digital desk your salary would be deducted, this threat was against the labour laws as this clause finds no mention in the contract that we signed while joining Republic, even HR team which sent this note can be taken to court of law over this harassment.
Arnab has no empathy for his staff, as he forced them to come out in the field even if their areas were declared as containment zones, I know how difficult and dangerous it was, but we did follow his dictate.
I have the company Laptop with me and having been witness to how this company does not settle the dues of the former employees, I will hand over the laptop only once you settled my dues, give me NOC and a relieving letter and if it’s not done in next 20 days I will have no other option but to move to the labour court.
Though I know that Arnab is a vindictive man and would try his level best to sabotage my career and my future prospects to find a job, but someone had to speak against him, I decided why not that someone should be me. At least by speaking against this man’s exploitation of more youth would stop, those who dream to join Journalism in the hope of doing quality stuff end up with being bonded labourers.
I also want to put this on record that if anything bad happens to me or my family, any accident, anything untoward happens to me or my family, Arnab and his wife is to be held responsible for the same. I will be giving this undertaking to my local police station soon.
BTW Honey Kour, I wish you best of luck and pray that you don’t have to face what the previous HR head had to go through.
Tejinder Singh Sodhi
Former Bureau Head Republic TV
Now a Freeman