Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami is a known war-monger and being perceived as the mouthpiece of the BJP, he’s believed to wield a considerable clout on the foreign and defence policy of the Centre’s Narendra Modi government. The co-founder of Republic TV is BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is also a member of the Indian parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence. According to popular belief, the Modi government decided to launch the aerial strikes because Goswami had managed to provoke the prime minister enough for the transgression of the LoC. It’s not surprising, why Goswami is facing public ire in light of the Pakistani response and the capture of an officer of the Indian Air Force.
A day after the Indian Air Force entered deep into Pakistani territory to carry out the aerial strikes in Balakot, the Pakistani Air Force responded by breaching the Indian airspace on Wednesday. They claimed to shoot down two Indian fighter jets, although the Indian government confirmed the downing of only one MiG 21. The reason for the crash of Mi 17 military helicopter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam was not known. Three officers of the Indian Air Force were killed including Squadron Leaders Vashishth and Ninad.
But the most devastating news for India came after Pakistan claimed to capture Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman after downing MiG 21 fighter jet. Moments later TV channels in Pakistan began to show the video of the Indian Air Force officer being paraded by the Pakistani military.
This sent shockwaves in India and evoked considerable anger from the Indian government and members of the civil society, who felt that Pakistan had violated the Geneva Convention’s principles on the treatment of prisoners of war.
Oblivious to the setback to India and the capture of a brave Indian Air Force officer, Goswami launched another tirade on
He started his prime time show, which also appears to have lost its entertainment quotient now, by announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan has been taught a second lesson in 24 hours. Our air warriors have shot down their F-16 after bombing their terror camps. Tonight, there’s only one option left against those who dare to target our military bases, Hit Them.”
Later in the programme, he yelled addressing liberal Indian journalists and the opposition parties as if casualties suffered by the Indian forces were all their fault. Calling them Imran Khan lovers, the controversial anchor said, “There’s a lobby in this country of Imran Khan lovers. And this is the political cabal that is peddling the paranoia about war-mongering. They refuse to say that India has a right to respond because nation first, soldiers first, India first. Not (Robert) Vadra first.”
His call for war and other theatrics came just hours after the BJP had astonishingly posted an insensitive tweet promoting Modi’s planned election webcast for Thursday. While the saffron party faced widespread condemnation for its hypocrisy on nationalism, Goswami’s silence on the topic left many seething. Angry over his hypocrisy, many Indian social media users urged Pakistan to accept Arnab Goswami in exchange of Wing Commander Abhinandan.
Here’s a snapshot of their reaction:
— SUNIL J RAO (@shilpasunil_rao) February 27, 2019
Arnab, R Shivshankar and the likes who wanted war – who among you would like to be in the place of the captured pilot Abhinandan? #BringBackAbhinandan
— NSUI ANIL (@anianil8) February 27, 2019
Hello Pakistan, please take Arnab Goswami and give us back Wing Commander Abhinandan .@adeel_azhar
— Dev karhale (@Silver_stone91) February 27, 2019
We will give you Arnab Goswamy, please return Wing Commandar AbhiNandan Varthaman
All sane Indians
— Ranjith K Avarachan (@ranjithka) February 27, 2019
Release Abhinandan, take Arnab with GD bhakshi complimentry. #SayNoToWar
— Nazima Nasrullah (@NazimaNasrullah) February 27, 2019
#nationfirst please tell Imran that we will send Arnab so they will send Abhinandan
— पकौडे_वाला (@roflearth) February 27, 2019
Can we exchange Commander Abhinandan with Arnab Goswami?
— Samaaj Ka Thekedaar (@Jagat_Mama) February 27, 2019
Many felt that with hysteria caused by the likes of Goswami, India’s attempts to bring back Wing Commander Abhinandan will become that much difficult.
— Frank (@FranklinnnMJ) February 27, 2019
Patriotic Employers are requested to spare the services to rescue Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman for a #SpecialCommandoVerbalForce comprising (in alphabetical order) Arnab Goswami, Gaurav Sawant, Navika Kumar, Rahul Kanwal, Rahul Shivshankar. Those in favour please retweet.
— S Y Savur (see profile) (@veteran10525) February 27, 2019
In the last video, released by Pakistan, Wing Commander Abhinandan was seen safe as he enjoyed tea.