Dark secret: Partho-Arnab WhatsApp chats
Sir — The incriminating WhatsApp conversations that allegedly took place between Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami and the former chief of Broadcast Audience Research Council, Partho Dasgupta, prima facie point to an unholy nexus between a news channel and those in power and smack of influence peddling (“Chats expose true face of ‘nationalist”, Jan 17). From the transcripts, it seems clear that the television anchor was in possession of classified information and tried to use it to further his commercial interests. Now someone has to accept responsibility for leaking military secrets and compromising national security. The government seems to have been in cahoots with the TV anchor to manipulate public opinion right before the 2019 general election. The remarks attributed to Goswami with regard to the Pulwama attack as well as the retaliatory air strikes are unworthy of a true patriot — the deaths of 40 jawans appears to have been something to capitalize on.
The truth has an uncanny knack of coming out in unexpected ways. For instance, these disclosures have revived the debate over how the Balakot air strike had catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in 2019. There are, of course, no prizes for guessing who the abbreviations, “NM” and “AS”, referred to in the messages in the context of getting things done stand for.
Interestingly, rivalry between TV channels makes no difference to the support received by the BJP and the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. TV channels and anchors, with a few honourable exceptions, support the Hindutva-oriented ruling dispensation blindly, albeit without being as rabid as some. It is not clear how all this advances the cause of Indian democracy.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Sir — Three days before the Indian air force conducted the Balakot air strike, the TV anchor, Arnab Goswami, allegedly told the former BARC chief, Partho Dasgupta, that ‘something big will happen’, indicating that he knew of the Narendra Modi-led government’s plan about the confidential military action. This was revealed by the transcript of WhatsApp messages — it is part of the supplementary charge sheet filed by the Mumbai police investigating the television rating point tampering case — reportedly exchanged between the two.
But here is the big question: how did such highly confidential military intelligence information get leaked to a TV anchor? Such details are entrusted to people who have taken the solemn oath to protect the nation. Should the Official Secrets Act not be invoked against the persons concerned? Is not disclosing secret military information a valid ground for prosecution as it endangers the security and integrity of the nation?
This serious breach of national security deserves a thorough investigation, and the arrest of the culprits. Privileged information concerning national security cannot be allowed to be treated as a marketable commodity for the sake of gathering TRPs. It is high time that the ministry of defence issues a statement to clear this ominous cloud and assuage the concerns of citizens.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,
Sir — Covaxin, an indigenous vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech, obtained clearance for India’s inoculation programme to eradicate the coronavirus. But the government’s silence on the publication of the efficacy data of the Phase-III trials of Covaxin remains frightening (“Other viruses”, Jan 17). Without completing the entire trial process, the vaccine itself may prove to be fatal for the people whose lives it is supposed to save.
The insatiable greed for power pushes political leaders to use any event to advance their electoral gains. The prime minister is no exception. He had earlier used the Pulwama attack and the surgical strikes in Balakot to win the 2019 general elections. Now he is not hesitating to use even public health as a weapon to keep his political interests intact. He seems eager to take credit for unleashing the nationwide vaccination programme — the impending elections in some states must have been the reason why scientists were not allowed to complete the trials.
Independent scientific research cannot take place on account of interference from the world of politics. Clearly, for governments, power is more important than the lives of the people.
Sir — It is shocking that the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife has empowered gram panchayats to deal with wild animals deemed problematic as they see fit, even sambhars, hyena, porcupine and nilgai — all protected under the law. It is true that wildlife often poses a threat to human life and property, but this is not a solution to the man-animal conflict. This move will give a free rein to the people to harm wildlife without consequences and abet unregulated killing of wild animals. This would create long-lasting ecological imbalances. The decision should be overturned at once.