New Delhi: Three days before the Indian Air Force’s Balakot strike, Republic TV Editor Arnab Goswami told his friend and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta ‘something big will happen’, indicating that he knew about the confidential military action, transcript of WhatsApp messages between the two, which is part of the supplementary charge sheet filed by the Mumbai Police investigating the TRP tampering case reveals.
On February 26 2019, the IAF hit a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot town. The government claimed that this was in response to the February 14 terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, where 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed after an explosive-laden car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into their bus.
At 10 p.m. on February 23, three days before the Balakot strike, the conversation begins with Mr. Goswami boasting about Republic TV bagging then Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s first-ever interview after the Pulwama incident.
Mr. Goswami during a conversation texted to Mr Dasgupta, “On another note something big will happen”. To which Mr. Dasgupta asked, “Dawood?”. Mr. Goswami responded, saying, “No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time.” Mr. Dasgupta, in response, said that “it’s good for big man in this season” and that “he will sweep polls then.” The 2019 general election was just a few months away. Mr. Dasgupta pressed for further clarity, asking Mr. Goswami, “Strike? Or bigger”. And Mr. Goswami responded, saying that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”. Then he went on to add, “And also at the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used.”
Congress leaders raise questions
The Congress party, did not hold an official press conference on the issue, but few senior leaders have raised questions on this conversation. Party spokesperson and senior supreme Court lawyer Abshishek Manu Singhvi said, “Arnab’s chats dated 23.02.2019 refer to sharing of Intel reaction along the Pak border. It means someone very senior in Govt is leaking highly confidential info which may endanger the lives of our soldiers and so that mercenary considerations can add to TRPs.”
Party general secretary and Assam in charge Jitendra Singh in a tweet called it a major breach of “national security”. “Arnab Goswami is not only the mouthpiece of the government but has access to defence secrets as if he was the Chief of Army Staff himself. This is a major breach of national security. Furthermore “people will be elated” just goes to show the intent of the BJP behind the attacks, he tweeted.
The article was first published in The Hindu