Firebrand anchor and 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. 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.
“At 10pm 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,” read a news report published in The Hindu.
During the chat, Goswami texted Dasgupta: “On another note, something big will happen”. To which the BRC CEO asked, “Dawood?” “No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time,” Goswami responded.
Given that the 2019 general election was just a few months away, Dasgupta remarked: “It’s good for the big man in this season” and that “he will sweep polls then,” referring to the extra votes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would get from initiating aggression against Pakistan in election season.
Daagupta then asked for further clarity: “Strike? Or bigger”. And Goswami reportedly responded, saying that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”. He went on to add: “And also at the same time something major on Kashmir … The government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used.”Following the revelations, the Congress party senior leaders have raised serious questions regarding India’s operational security.
Party spokesperson and senior Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek 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.”
On February 26 last year, Indian fighter jets had entered into Pakistani territory with the intention to bomb a madrassah in Balakot but had to retreat in haste after the Pakistan Air Force scrambled its own jets in response.The Indian jets dropped their payload in sovereign Pakistani territory near the old madrassah, but failed to inflict any material damage apart from ruining a few trees.
The next day, Pakistan had responded to the provocation by sending fighter jets across the Line of Control in a tit-for-tat response. The jets locked on to Indian military positions, then returned after issuing ‘warning’ shots to them. Caught off balance, Indian forces had shot down one of their own helicopters in friendly fire, killing all troops on board.
When India again sent fighter jets to chase the Pakistani jets down, the Pakistan Air Force launched a successful ‘surprise’ attack, taking down two Indian fighter aircraft in an aerial dogfight and taking an Indian Air Force pilot, Wg Cmdr Abhinandan Varthaman, prisoner.