The Mumbai police have made public purported Whatsapp conversations between Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV, and Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of the TRP measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council, or BARC.
In one of these chats on February 23, 2019, three days before India would launch crossborder air raids in Pakistan, Goswami tells Dasgupta that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”.
The “revelation” that Goswami seemingly had advance knowledge of a top secret military operation has caused ripples in the media and even got Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, commenting that it shows a "dirty nexus" between the Narendra Modi government and India’s media is pushing the nuclearised region to the brink of conflict. This is why, Khan added, he had told the international community how “India's fascist Modi government” used the "Balakot crisis for domestic electoral gains".
On Sunday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry saying the newly released chats vindicate Islamabad’s position that India’s “RSS-BJP government” stages “false flag operations”, maligns Pakistan with accusations of supporting terror, and stokes hypernationalism to win elections.
In response, Republic TV termed this a “direct attack on Arnab by Pakistan’s prime minister”.
“It is Imran Khan versus Republic now,” the channel declared, running the hashtag RepublicVsPakistan, which soon started trending on Twitter, and asking, “Which Indian did not expect the Indian forces to hit back in a big way after the Pulwama terrorist attack?”
The also ran taglines such as “Republic Fights Imran”.
“Do they think the people of this country will not see through what they are doing? Do they think the people of this country will not question the anti-Republic channels saying they cannot handle the popularity of the Republic so they joined hands with the Pakistanis?” Goswami thundered. “You joined hands with Pakistan apologists and the tukde tukde gang openly to target Republic? Do they not see this or have they pushed themselves into a corner where they do not see the truth?”
In released by Goswami, he added, “Imran Khan tried to deny Balakot but later had to acknowledge it. There was nothing ‘false flag’ about Balakot, it was a direct and necessary response to Pakistani terrorism. What shocks me is the calibration between the Vadra Congress and anti-Republic media, to assist the Pakistani narrative.”
Claiming that the Pakistan hand in the “conspiracy against Republic” has become clear, he said, “Republic has and will single-handedly destroy the Pakistan government narrative. Imran Khan is on the edge because he cannot handle the truth. He's looking shaky and expects his apologists in India to come to his rescue.”