Mumbai: Firebrand Indian television anchor Arnab Goswami knew of the Modi government’s plan to stage a strike in Pakistan days before the February 26, 2019, Balakot episode, the evidence submitted by Mumbai police as part of the ongoing investigation into the alleged manipulation of television rating points (TRP) suggests.
The Mumbai police have submitted damning messages that were allegedly exchanged between Republic TV editor Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) discussing ways to “manipulate” the ratings.
The WhatsApp chats – running over 1000 pages – suggest complicity between the two and are part of the 3400-page supplementary chargesheet that the Mumbai police filed earlier this week.
The messages also suggest that Goswami was in the know about key decisions that the Central government took, even those that were closely guarded. He also seems to be aware of the revocation of Article 370 in advance, highlighting his close connections with the upper echelons of government.
The messages also show Goswami’s proximity to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the information and broadcast ministry, also suggesting that he misused this access
Three days later, on February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force carried out a strike in the Pakistani town of Balakot. The attack 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.
— Sumanth Raman (@sumanthraman) January 16, 2021
A day after the episode, excerpts from the alleged chats show, Dasgupta texted Goswami asking whether this was what he was hinting at. Answering in the affirmative, Goswami added, “More to come”.
These are a few snapshots of the damning leaked WhatsApp chats between BARC CEO & #ArnabGoswami. They show many conspiracies&unprecedented access to power in this govt; gross abuse of his media&his position as power broker. In any Rule of law country, he would be in jail for long pic.twitter.com/6aGOR6BRQJ
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) January 15, 2021
According to another Indian Media outlet, these purported conversations, which cover topics from the Pulwama attack to Kashmir’s annexation, are just a part of the mammoth transcript which shows Goswami was aware of the the Indian government’s plans well in advance.
Some of these conversations also reveal that the ratings agency boss, Dasgupta, wanted to use Goswami’s connections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office to get a position as the PM’s adviser.
“If you can please get me a media adviser kind of position with the prime minister office,” said Dasgupta in one of the purported WhatsApp messages published by Indian media.
Dasgupta was arrested last month and is currently under police remand. He was charged with “misuse of his official position to manipulate TRP of specific news channels broadcast by ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd such as Republic Bharat Hindi and Republic TV English.