The Shiv Sena on Monday became the latest political party to demand action against journalist Arnab Goswami over his purported WhatsApp messages that suggest he had prior knowledge of the Balakot airstrike, reported the Hindustan Times. The party said the alleged collusion between Goswami and the central government was a breach of India’s national security.
“I think this is a threat to country’s internal security,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said. “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 in national security.”
The WhatsApp chats in question are part of the supplementary chargesheet that the Mumbai Police filed in the Television Rating Points scam case. It revealed that three days before the the Indian Air Force carried out a strike targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camps in the Pakistani town of Balakot, Goswami had told Partho Dasgupta, the former chief executive officer of Broadcast Audience Research Council, that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”.
Details from those transcripts – which have not so far been denied by Goswami – also exposed how Goswami and Dasupta had extensively discussed ways to rig Republic TV’s ratings. The messages also show close proximity and coordination between Goswami’s TV channel and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including ministers. These include someone named “AS”, as also the “PMO”, presumably the Prime Minister’s Office.
Raut wondered if the government would take punitive action against Goswami in the same manner as it would’ve acted against its critics. “What action will the country’s home minister [Amit Shah] and defence minister [Rajnath Singh] take on this?” he asked. “This is a matter concerning defence. We ask them, will you court-martial him [Goswami]?”
In an editorial published in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna, the party further accused the Centre of being “anti-national”. “If people from the BJP think that sharing of national secrets is not anti-national and acting on such issues is an emergency-like situation, then their definition of nationalism needs to be examined,” it added.
- Pakistan calls Pulwama attack ‘false flag operation’ citing Arnab Goswami’s WhatsApp chats
- Arnab Goswami’s WhatsApp chats raise serious security questions, says Congress, demands probe
Set up parliamentary panel to investigate case, says NCP
Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party asked the Centre to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the purported chats, reported PTI. Party spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said he will meet Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday, and would also a seek clarification from Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the “chatgate”.
“It is extremely shocking and disturbing to know how issues related to national security have been used to gain TRPs,” Tapase added. “The question also arises how Arnab was privy to such sensitive information. The Ministry of Home Affairs has to identify the source and immediately take action.”
Goswami has been at the forefront in maligning the image of the Mumbai Police and also the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state, Tapase alleged. “In his TV debates, he tried to give a communal angle to the Palghar incident,” he added. “The Sushant Singh Rajput death case was blown out of proportion and a false narrative was set. All this was done with the sole intention to destabilise the MVA government.”
On Sunday, the Congress too had referred to the purported chats, and demanded an inquiry into the conversations. The party had accused the BJP-led government of leaking highly confidential information at the expense of national security.