Karur, January 25
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “person through which” prior information on India’s airstrikes in Balakot in Pakistan in 2019 was made available to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.
The Congress MP, however, did not provide evidence to back up his claim. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) also did not immediately respond to the claim.
Addressing a roadshow here during his final day of the election campaign in poll-bound Tamil Nadu, he said only five people, including the PM and the Defence Minister, would have prior information of the planned strikes.
“Some days back, it came out that a journalist knew about the airstrikes in Balakot. Three days before the (Indian) air force bombed Pakistan, an Indian journalist was told it was going to happen,” he said.
This meant the lives of our IAF pilots were put at ‘risk’, he said.
“Now, five people in this world knew about Balakot (air strikes). Prime Minister of India, the Defence Minister of India, the National Security Adviser and the Chief of the Air Force and the Home Minister.”
“Nobody else in the world knew about Balakot before it happened. Now I want to understand why an inquiry has not started on who told this journalist about Balakot before it happened. The reason is that one of these five people told this man. One of these five people betrayed our Air Force,” he claimed.
He alleged that “one of these people put the lives of our pilots in danger”.
“If the Prime Minister did not do it then why is he not ordering an inquiry. Think about it. The only reason that the Prime Minister has not ordered an inquiry is because he is the person through whom that message has gone to this journalist,” Gandhi claimed.
Else, the PM should investigate and tell which one of these five people did it, Gandhi demanded.
Purported chats between Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) head Partho Dasgupta, which mentioned that the former was privy to the 2019 airstrike, by the IAF on the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot had surfaced recently.
The IAF had carried out the strike deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019, in the wake of the killing of 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district then by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Gandhi also hit out at Modi once again over the Sino-India face-off, saying “today the Chinese army is sitting inside Indian territory”.
“The Prime Minister has said he has a 56-inch chest. Today the Chinese army is sitting inside Indian territory. Thousands of kilometres of Indian land has been taken by the Chinese,” he said.
He alleged that Modi could not say the word China as he “does not have the courage to say” so.
“You look at his speeches for the last three to four months, he does not say the word China. When the Chinese entered our territory he lied that nobody had come. After some days the Army and Defence Minister said the Chinese army had come into Indian territory,” Gandhi added.
“And the only reason the Chinese have the guts and the courage to come into this country is because Narendra Modi has destroyed the economy and weakened (the country) by dividing it,” he charged. PTI