Centre ought to pay attention to Arnab’s purported chats: Deshmukh

Mumbai, January 19

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday said the Centre should take note of the purported chats between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and ex-Broadcast Audience Research Council head Partho Dasgupta in connection with Balakot air strike.

The matter is “serious” as it relates to the national security, Deshmukh told reporters here, and later, in a tweet, said the state government will also take legal advice on this matter as “it is evident that they were privy to the plan related to national security”.

The purported chats widely reported in media mentioned that Goswami was privy to the Balakot air strikes.

Deshmukh’s remarks came after a Maharashtra Congress delegation led by state party spokesperson Sachin Sawant met him here, seeking a probe into the matter and registration of a case if necessary, for allegedly “leaking sensitive and classified information” about national security.

Sawant also demanded Goswami’s immediate arrest in this connection.

After the delegation met him, Deshmukh told reporters that, “It is a very serious matter. It is an issue of national security. The Centre definitely needs to take note of it.”

Later, the minister in a tweet said, “We will also take legal advice on this matter as it is evident that they were privy to the plan related to National security.”           

“The state government will take further legal action after discussions with senior police officials,” he added.

In its memorandum submitted to Deshmukh, the Congress delegation said it is a matter of “gross concern” that Goswami was allegedly not only privy to the information of the highest secrecy regarding national security operations of the armed forces, but was also “openly sharing” it with Dasgupta.

The Congress asked how Goswami could allegedly access the information about the Indian Air Force’s cross-border air strike in Pakistan days before it happened shows “compromise” of national security of the highest order.

“We wish to request you to kindly order an inquiry and register a case if necessary under the Official Secrets Act- 1923 against Goswami for leaking sensitive and classified information about a national security Armed Forces operation to an unauthorised person days before it happened,” the memorandum said.

Sawant alleged in a statement issued later that Goswami knew about the air strike three days in advance of it.

“How come Goswami knew such a confidential and sensitive information? This is a kind of treason and Goswami should be arrested immediately,” Sawant said.

The Congress delegation also accused the Republic TV of illegally using the satellite frequencies of Doordarshan without allegedly paying up-linking fees and reaching millions of additional subscribers for free in an illegal manner.

“This matter of gross manipulation and causing losses of crores to the Indian taxpayers by using DD frequencies illegally needs to be investigated together with the TRP scam as it clearly points to a pattern of manipulating the law in the interest of greater eyeballs by Republic TV,” the delegation alleged in the memorandum.

On Monday, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) asked the government to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the purported chats between Goswami and Dasgupta.

Dasgupta was earlier arrested in the fake Television Rating Point (TRP) case.

The Mumbai police earlier told a court that Goswami had allegedly bribed Dasgupta with lakhs of rupees to ramp up Republic TV’s viewership. — PTI

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