Tuesday Jan 19, 2021
NEW DELHI: The Indian Opposition parties have called for an investigation into security leaks as chat messages from fireband anchor Anchor Goswami have hinted towards his prior knowledge of Balakot airstrike carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2019.
The senior officer of India's Republic TV Arnab Goswami is facing renewed scrutiny after his controversial chats with former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta were leaked to the press.
Republic has often adopted positions supportive of the Modi government and Goswami is known for his aggressive attacks on the opposition in his prime-time nightly programme, one of the country’s most-watched.
According to a British wire service, India’s main opposition Congress party, as well as Shiv Sena, a regional party that governs Maharashtra state where the TV channel is based, have both called for a government inquiry into the controversial messages.
Shashi Tharoor, a Congress lawmaker, said the messages required “serious inquiry” by the Modi government, which has made national security a top priority.
The party said the alleged collusion between Goswami and the central government was a breach of India’s national security. The Shiv Sena became the latest political party to demand action against Goswami.
“I think this is a threat to the country’s internal security,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, according to Indian media.
“Sometimes, such military secrets are not known to top officials. If a jawan is found to possess any such secrets or documents, he is court-martialed. Here, he [Arnab] knew that Balakot [air strike] will happen. This means there is a breach of national security.”
The messages have escalated tensions between India and Pakistan, with Islamabad’s foreign ministry saying the transcripts showed the strikes were engineered to coincide with a general election that Modi won by a landslide a few months later.
In one of the conversations with Dasgupta, Goswami hinted at "something big" to happen just three days before India's failed attack on Balakot in 2019.
“On Pakistan, the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated,” a transcript of the messages sent by Goswami said.
“Exact words used.” The messages, reported by Indian media and seen by Reuters, are part of a charge-sheet filed by police in Mumbai investigating alleged fixing of ratings by Republic — charges the network denies.
Following the development, Indian spokespersons for defence and foreign ministries have refrained to respond immediately to the requests for comment on the transcripts.