The Shiv Sena on Thursday asked its former ally Bharatiya Janata Party to take action against journalist Arnab Goswami for his WhatsApp chats about the Balakot airstrike, reported PTI. In a purported WhatsApp chat on February 23 – three days before the strike – Goswami told Broadcast Audience Research Council’s former Chief Executive Officer Partho Dasgupta that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena pointed out that while the saffron party was vocal about raising concerns about content in web series, it was tight-lipped about Goswami’s chats. “It is good that the BJP filed cases against producer and director of Tandav in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” said the Sena, referring to the controversy around the Amazon Prime web series. “But they will be truly men if the BJP files cases also against Goswami who insulted the martyrdom of jawans.”
The Shiv Sena asked the BJP why it was not raising its voice against Goswami leaking information related to national security. “Let all know who toyed with national security by leaking secret information to Goswami,” it added. “The government should bring the truth in this regard to the fore.”
The Shiv Sena also hit out at the media for its selective coverage. It said that the media, which creates “a ruckus” even if one is found possessing 100 grams of cannabis, was not ready to hold a national debate on Goswami’s chat. “The souls of Pulwama attack martyrs will find peace if there is discussion also on Goswami’s treason,” read the editorial.
Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party on Thursday staged a protest in Mumbai, demanding action against Goswami. Party workers, led by former legislator Vidya Chavan and NCP’s state chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase, protested outside Republic TV’s office.
The Opposition has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee’s inquiry into whether the national security was compromised.
Several Congress leaders, including former chief Rahul Gandhi, have called for an investigation into the matter. On Wednesday, party leader AK Antony said leaking of classified military information was a matter of “national security”. “Whoever is party to this leakage must be punished and those involved deserve no mercy,” Antony added.
On Tuesday, Gandhi said only five people knew about the Balakot airstrikes and that the information being leaked to a journalist was a “criminal act”. “There were four or five people who knew this information...Prime Minister of India, possibly the defence minister...the home minister...the air force chief,” he said. “Giving official secret information to a journalist is a criminal act. Both on the part of the person who accepted it and on the part of the person who gave it.”
On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force carried out a strike targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in the Pakistani town of Balakot. It was billed as India’s response to an attack on February 14, 2019, in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed after an explosive-laden car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into their bus.
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