Mumbai: Expressing serious concerns over the recent leaks of social media chats of two media personalities, the Maharashtra Congress on Tuesday said they compromised national security and violated the provisions of the Official Secrets Act.
In a memorandum submitted to Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, a Congress delegation led by spokespersons Sachin Sawant and Raju Waghmare said that the leakage of the purported social media chats conducted between Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami and ex-BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta undermined national security of the ‘highest order’.
On his part, Deshmukh assured that he would take up the matter in the state Cabinet before taking a decision. Headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government comprises Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.
The developments came a day after the NCP demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe into the matter and Deshmukh said on January 18 that the government is trying to ascertain how Goswami got access to such highly classified details pertaining to national security.
Sawant and Waghmare pointed out how, in one of the chats, Goswami tells Dasgupta that he had confirmed information about India planning a cross-border strike on Pakistan in retaliation for the Pulwama terror attacks on CRPF troopers.
“Even the date and time stamps on this message show that this chat happened 3 days before the Indian Air Force conducted an air strike on Balakot in Pakistan on February 26, 2019,” the Congress memorandum said.
Both leaders informed Deshmukh how it was a matter of serious concern that Goswami was not only privy to information of the highest secrecy regarding national security operations of the armed forces but was also openly sharing it with Dasgupta, and it is not known as to how many other people he (Goswami) may have leaked these secrets to.
“Goswami’s actions are a clear violation of Section 5 of the OSA, 1923 which forbids a person with knowledge of classified national security operations from revealing them to unauthorised persons,” the two leaders said.
Besides, the OSA 1923 vests the power of investigating and prosecuting offences related to to Sec. 5 with the concerned state government, said Sawant and Waghmare.
They urged the state home minister to order a probe and register an offence if needed against Goswami for compromising national security, probe how he was privy to the information and who leaked such sensitive information to him.
Sawant and Waghmare raised another issue of Republic TV allegedly illegally using Doordarshan Prasar Bharati satellite frequency signals without paying the uplinking fees to reach millions of additional subscribers free in an illegal manner.
The matter figured in another chat of Goswami in which he is claiming that the then Information & Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore kept the matter pending till Republic TV escaped action from the government.
This issue, the duo demanded must be investigated along with the TRP probe of Mumbai Police in which Republic TV and certain other private television channels manipulated viewership data causing huge losses to the Indian exchequer.