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‘Treason’: Cong on Arnab Chats, Latter to File Criminal Complaint

Congress leader AK Antony said on Wednesday that leaking of official secrets about a military operation is treason.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
Highlighting that the chat between Goswami and Dasgupta took place 3 days before the Balakot airstrike, AK Anthony questioned “How did a journalist come to know that it is an airstrike?”
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Amid controversy over the purported WhatsApp chats of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Congress leader AK Antony addressed a press conference on Wednesday, 20 January, where he called the leaking of official information treason, and made an appeal for appropriate punishment for the same.

In response, Goswami accused Congress of manufacturing lies against him.

The senior Congress leader and former defence minister also said that the government should immediately order an inquiry into the leak of information about the air strike and that this affects national security.

Wednesday’s briefing by Congress came on the heels of comments made by party leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday at another press conference, where he said that giving official secret information to a journalist is a ‘criminal act.’

"The distressing thing for me was that when 40 of our jawans died, someone said 'this is going to be very good for us'. I do not like this language. This is an anti-national act... It's a criminal action, giving official secret information to a journalist. I want to know whether it was the PM of India, home minister, defence minister or NSA who told Goswami," Gandhi was quoted at saying a press briefing, after releasing a booklet on the three contentious farm laws.

On Wednesday, Antony made similar points, saying that “it is very clear that classified documents concerning national security, concerning the most sensitive and secret airstrikes are with people who are not expected to be authorised to possess such documents.”

Highlighting that the chat between Goswami and Dasgupta took place 3 days before the Balakot airstrike, he questioned “How did a journalist come to know that it is an airstrike?”

He also suggested that only one of the civilians in the top positions of the government could have been behind this, since no military officer could leak such sensitive information.

“Leaking Official Secrets is a criminal act, leaking official secrets of national security matters or military operations, especially air force strikes is treason and anti-national activity. Whoever is involved has to be punished,” Antony said, adding that such people deserved no mercy and should be punished.

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‘Absolute Falsehoods’: Arnab Goswami

In a news release by Republic TV, the Editor-in-Chief addressed the issue, saying that the Congress party is spreading “absolute falsehoods” and lies against him and his channel, and called their accusations of him compromising national security a ‘hogwash’.

“Their claim that I have compromised national security is hogwash and heart of heart even their top leaders know it. The problem with the Congress party is that they cannot stand a nationalist channel with a nationalist Editor-in-Chief,” Goswami wrote.

Goswami also indicated that he would take legal recourse against the party, and expose them in the courts of law. “I am filing a criminal complaint against every Congress leader who has uttered lies against me,” he wrote.

References to Balakot, Pulwama in Goswami’s Purported Chats

The alleged chats between Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta include several controversial alleged conversations between Goswami and Dasgupta regarding various news events (and Republic’s coverage of them), including the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strike in February 2019.

On 14 February 2019, a terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy near Pulwama led to the deaths of 40 military personnel. In alleged texts to Dasgupta on the day, Goswami first purportedly mentions that his channel was “20 min ahead on the biggest terrorist attack of the year in Kashmir”.

He then appears to go on to say, with regard to his channel’s coverage: “This attack we have won like crazy”.

On 23 February 2019, three days before Indian Air Force conducted a retaliatory strike on a reported terrorist camp in Pakistan at Balakot, Goswami allegedly told Dasgupta that “something big will happen.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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