- Giving official secrets to journalist a criminal act: Rahul Gandhi
- He accused PM of leaking Pak air strike information to journalist
- TV anchor's chats show he knew about Balakot air strike in advance
Rahul Gandhi, commenting today for the first time on the WhatsApp chats of TV anchor Arnab Goswami linked to the 2019 Balakot air strike, said "giving official secrets to a journalist is a criminal act" and targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly over the leak. "You will see that no inquiry will be conducted as the Prime Minister was the one who leaked the information," the Congress leader alleged as he called for an investigation.
"Things like this (Balakot) would be known only to a handful of people - the PM, Home Minister, Defence Minister, Defence Chief, Air Force Chief and Army Chief. So if a secret like this has been leaked to a journalist, then it is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. It is leaking of a state secret," the Congress leader said.
"These people call themselves patriots and nationalists, but this is an anti-national act. Giving Arnab Goswami such information is a criminal offence and puts the air force of the country and its pilots in grave danger. It must be investigated," added Mr Gandhi.
"We want to know who among these people gave Arnab Goswami that information. Was it Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself? Or was it the Home Minister?"
In its investigations into a TV ratings scam, Mumbai Police has submitted to a court WhatsApp transcripts of chats between Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the former CEO of ratings agency BARC, which reveal the TV anchor as saying three days before the Balakot strike that "something big will happen", that it would be "bigger than a normal strike" and "the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated."
The conversation is dated February 23, 2019, three days before India sent Air Force fighter jets to Balakot in Pakistan to destroy a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror base in retaliation for the terror attack in Pulwama, in which over 40 soldiers were killed.
Mr Gandhi said: "If such information is there on Arnab Goswami's WhatsApp message, then it is also there with Pakistan, this then cannot be a secret, and hence it puts pilots' lives in danger and puts the entire operation in jeopardy."
Amid massive outrage and shock over the leaked chats, the opposition has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation into whether national security was compromised.