Three days before the Balakot airstrike, Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami allegedly told Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) that "something major will be done this time', showing that he was privy to the plans of the Air Force's action, several media reports have said.
According to the alleged transcript of WhatsApp chat between Goswami and Dasgupta, which is part of the supplementary charge sheet filed by Mumbai Police before a court in the TRP scam case, Goswami on February 23, 2019 allegedly said that the Central government was planning to carry out a "bigger than normal strike".
In the wee hours of February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck the terror training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Balakot town of Pakistan. The airstrike was carried out in response to the February 14 terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, which had claimed the lives of 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) after an explosive-laden van rammed into the CRPF convoy on the national highway.
Govt planning something on Kashmir, Goswami allegedly told ex-BARC CEO in Feb 2019
At 10:31 am on February 23, Goswami allegedly texted Dasgupta, "On another note something big will happen". To which Dasgupta asked, "Dawood?" Goswami responded, saying, "No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time." Dasgupta, in response, said that "It's good for big man in this season" and that "he will sweep polls then," TOI reported.
It is noteworthy that the 2019 general elections were conducted just a few months after the Balakot strike.
Seeking further clarity on Goswami's alleged claim, Dasgupta said to have asked, "Strike? or bigger". To which Goswami reportedly responded, "bigger than a normal strike", adding that the government was planning something major regarding the issue of Kashmir, media reports say.
"And also at the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used," his alleged message to Dasgupta reads.
In August, 2019, Central government bifurcated the eartwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
We've won like crazy: Goswami on Pulwama attack
Referring to Republic TV's coverage of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF troops were killed, Goswami allegedly told Dasgupta that the news worked very well work of TRP of his channel.
In a message to Dasgupta at 4:19 pm on February 14, hours after the attack, the anchor allegedly explained how Republic TV broke the news 20 minutes before other channels and reportedly claimed that only his channel had the ground presence.
Dasgupta in his message to Goswami allegedly said, "Modi happened yesterday," to which Goswami said, "Have planned some build-up thing thing after we spoke. Idea to gain massive spike. So used his speech yesterday and pushed it by a bit."
"This attack we have won like crazy," Goswami added.
Last year, Mumbai Police had busted the fake TRP scam after BARC filed a complaint alleging that certain television channels have been rigging the TRP numbers in order to attract more advertisements.
Mumbai Police had arrested Das Gupta on December 24 last year in connection with the scam and his bail petition was rejected on January 4 this year. Prior to that, Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani was also arrested by the Mumbai Police but he was later granted bail by a court. Republic TV's distribution head Ghanshyam Singh was also arrested in the case.
A total of 15 people have been arrested in the TRP scam so far. Earlier this month, Mumbai Police had informed the Bombay High Court that it had found evidence against Goswami in the TRP scam.
Goswami was, however, detained by Mumbai Police in connection with a suicide case and released on bail.
On Friday evening, Partho Dasgupta was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai after complained of breathlessness and has been put on oxygen support.