The opposition has demanded a probe into the leaked WhatsApp conversations between TV anchor Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the former CEO of rating agency BARC, submitted by Mumbai Police to a court. The chats linked to the 2019 Balakot airstrike in retaliation for the deadly Pulwama attack in February 2019 have raised serious questions on national security.
The leaked chats are a part of the Mumbai Police charge-sheet on the TRP scam, in which Arnab Goswami's Republic TV and two other channels are accused of rigging TRPs by manipulating households metred for viewership, NDTV reported.
The chats between Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta have the TV anchor saying three days before the Balakot strike that "something big will happen". The chats reveal he said it would be "bigger than a normal strike" and "the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated."
When the former-BARC CEO asked if it was about "Dawood", the Republic TV anchor replied: "No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time."
The conversation is dated February 23, 2019, three days before India sent Air Force jets to Balakot in Pakistan to destroy a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camp.
Amid outrage over the leaked chats, the opposition has now demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation into whether national security was compromised.
"Did a journalist (and his friend) know about the retaliatory strike on Balakot camp three days before the actual strike? If yes, what is the guarantee that their 'source' did not share the information with others as well, including spies or informers working for Pakistan? How did a 'For Your Eyes Only' decision find its way to the government-supporting journalist?" Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted.
"The government gave sensitive information to Arnab Goswami. Information about Balakot and Article 370 was given to him," Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra tweeted.
Meanwhile, in a strong message, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has expressed shock and said: "These messages clearly establish collusion between the two in manipulating ratings to garner greater viewership numbers for Republic TV month after month by fraudulently manually reducing ratings of other channels to give Republic TV an unfair advantage. These WhatsApp messages not only reflect manipulation of ratings but is also about power play."