Journalist knew three days before the Indian Air Force bombed Pakistani soil
Arnab Goswami, Indian journalist and a supporter of the ruling BJP, had prior knowledge of the Modi government's plan to conduct a strike on Pakistani soil days before the Balakot intrusion on February 26, 2019.
The airstrike on Pakistani soil near the town of Balakot brought the two nuclear-armed neighbours on the brink of another war. The strike caused no loss of life in Pakistan and the Indian jets dropped their munitions on a hillside.
The revelation of Goswami having prior knowledge comes from the Mumbai police's ongoing investigation on manipulation of television ratings, said Indian media outlets.
Indian police has included the purported conversations between Goswami and Pratho Dasgupta, the head of a ratings company and also in custody, in the chargesheet of the case.
The excerpts of the conversation published by an Indian media outlet shows that Goswami messaged Dasgupta on Whatsapp on Feb 23, 2019, and informed him that "something big will happen"
When Dasgupta inquired if its related to "Dawood", referring to Dawood Ibrahim, Goswami said: “No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time.”
The head of the TV ratings company then said it was "good for big man in this season".
In February 2019, Indian general elections were mere months away, scheduled to start from April 11 of that year. Narendra Modi and his right-wing BJP was elected after the party saw a rise in popularity following the stand-off with Pakistan.
"He will sweep polls then," continued Dasgupta. He then proceeded to ask Goswami if it will be a "strike or bigger?"
“Bigger than a normal strike. And also on the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used," replied Goswami.
In pictures: Wreckage of Indian jet shot down by PAF
Following the February 14, 2019, attack in occupied Kashmir's Pulwama district, which killed at least 40 Indian security personnel, Goswami messaged Dasgupta and said: “This attack we have won like crazy.”
Islamabad has repeatedly dismissed Indian claims of involvement in the Pulwama attack. Soon after the attack, India carried out the Balakot airstrike and in retaliation, the Pakistan Air Force hit back on February 27, 2019.
In the aerial skirmish over the Line of Control (LoC), PAF shot down two IAF aircraft and captured IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
During the skirmish, India forces also shot down one of their own military helicopters in panic over Budgam area of occupied Kashmir. Six Indian servicemen were killed in the incident.
“The sole purpose of this [PAF] action was to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We do not wish to escalate, but we're fully prepared if forced into that paradigm,” the Foreign Office had said in a statement on the day.
In an attempt to hide its embarrassment, IAF claimed that Abhinandan had shot down a PAF F-16 fighter before his MiG-21 was shot, though it had literally no evidence to substantiate its claim.
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