#ArnabGate: Clamour grows for Republic TV chief’s arrest for ‘advance information’ on Balakot airstrike
The chat transcript submitted by Mumbai Police in court indicated that Goswami was aware of the air strike carried out by India at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26, 2019, three days in advance
The transcript of the WhatsApp chats between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, which formed part of a 3,400-page supplementary charge sheet submitted to a court by Mumbai Police in the TRP case against BARC and Republic TV among others, contained a remark by Goswami which indicated that he was aware of the airstrike carried out by India on a terrorist camp at Balakot in Pakistan in retaliation for the Pulwama terror attack on February 26, 2019 three days in advance.
This triggered an outrage on social media, with many users demanding that the TV anchor and those who supplied him the information be tried under the Official Secrets Act 1923.
The Official Secrets Act 1923 is India's anti-espionage act held over from the British colonial period. It states clearly that actions which involve helping an enemy state against India are strongly condemned. According to this Act, helping the enemy state can be in the form of communicating a sketch, plan, model of an official secret, or of official codes or passwords, to the enemy. Punishments under the Act range from three to life imprisonment. A person prosecuted under this Act can be charged with the crime even if the action was unintentional and not intended to endanger the security of the state.
Transparency activist Saket Gokhale pointed out that Goswami could be held and tried under Section 5 of the Act.
‘Arnab Goswami should read Sec 5 of Official Secrets Act, 1923. Unfortunately for him, turns out that this is also the only section of the Act under which a State Govt can arrest him without needing Centre’s permission. That’d make it worse for whoever gave him the Balakot info.’
Journalist Saahil Murli Menghani tweeted:
Official secrets act 1923. 'Expressions referring to communicating or receiving include ANY communicating or receiving, whether in whole or in PART. Expressions referring to OBTAINING any plan or MODEL. Model includes pattern.' In this chat, Arnab writes, 'Exact words used'
Congress leader Dr AM Singhvi tweeted:
Arnab's chats dated 23.02.2019 refer to sharing of Intel re: action along the Pak border. It means someone very senior in Govt is leaking highly confidential info which may endanger the lives of our soldiers & so that mercenary considerations can add to TRPs.
The official handle of the Indian Youth Congress tweeted:
The BJP government has compromised on the national security of our country by leaking out important matters of national security to a journalist!!! The govt. and the journalist are answerable to the country!!! THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW!!!
Other users too took to Twitter pointing out the apparant violation of the law by Arnab Goswami. Here is a compilation of a few such tweets:
Arnab knew about the Balakot Air Strikes three days before it happened! He and his friend are chatting that this will "sweep the polls". Who told him? This is a clear criminal offence under OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT Arnab must be immediately ARRESTED for this & tried for TREASON.
Published: 17 Jan 2021, 10:07 PM