It is difficult to imagine any journalist with a modicum of integrity, especially one in a senior position like Manoj Gupta would fabricate a conversation with a Mirpur SP and of questioning him on India’s surgical strikes.
True, journalists are not always the picture of probity and have their fair share of bad eggs, but the fact is that even as Pakistan’s foreign ministry dismissed the CNN-News18 story, its acknowledgement that there is a policeman named Ghulam Akbar in the Mirpur station in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), kind of pulls the ground from under the ministry’s feet.
And, as much of a fount of knowledge that Gupta might be, the odds of him personally knowing the name of a policeman in the hostile territory of PoK are incredibly low; thus, we have to assume that he got the name through someone.
I have no idea how good an impersonator Gupta is, but, if he pretended to mimic the IGP of Pakistan’s Punjab, there is a fair chance that a mere junior policeman in a station would have had his heart in his throat when he found that IGP Mushtaq had called. There is in fact an IGP Mushtaq.
If it is anything like we see in India, Akbar would have probably stood at attention over the phone line and saluted, and yes, inevitably spilled the beans. It is highly unlikely that he would have had the courage to question the bona fides of the voice on the other line or make out the subtle differences in the accent. How many SPs posted in remote areas would be familiar with the IGP’s voice pattern?
I remember once going through the security check before taking a flight from the Mumbai airport and this burly man was stopped because of something suspicious in his handbag. A policeman asked him to open his bag, but instead of complying, he flashed his credentials – he was the commissioner or something. About twenty cops rose as one and stiffened up. His bag was not opened. So much for that.
Ditto the reaction across the border, where authority is even more feared. Regardless of Pakistan’s hot denial and accusations that the voices on the recording are forged and do not belong to Akbar, who now obviously suffers from memory loss and insists that no such call was received, the truth is reflected in their protests sans conviction.
Argument: There is no percentage in concocting this exercise. You are not going to put your career and credibility and your station at stake for a stunt that can easily be found out as false and blow up in your face. Imagine the horrific embarrassment if you conjured up a conversation for a moment’s delight.
Besides, the SP Akbar confessions, so to speak, are not particularly revealing of any new evidence. In fact, he just kind of tells the big boss how many casualties there were, that some Pakistani soldiers were lost and that seven places were attacked by India in the surgical strikes.
India already knows that. And more.
Which is why this little conversation has the scent of reality about it. There is no drama, no exaggeration; it's just a normal talk. We all are creatures of habit. If the boss calls we go into mental handsprings. It is the way we are.
Let Pakistan whine as much as it wants and disregard the call. It happened and we really don’t need to prove it.
And yet, there are Indians who say, it could not have happened. Why not? Why would he divulge details, they say; he would want a proof that it was his boss... yeah, sure. You do that right? Have you seen how we curl up like worms and bend into question marks and sit on the edge of the chair, if we sit at all, when the big boss summons.
Our part of the world has the most servile body language in the world; we call it respect but it is, actually, a deeply ingrained sense of survival.
We do not need this cabal in India – demanding proof of the surgical strikes. Why would we make it public? Why would we let the terrorists watch a grand episode on India’s military modus operandi, and tell them about the drone models we have, the weaponry used, and the route we took to get in and get home. There is no need for that.
I think Gupta took a shot and was dead on target. For any journalist, it's wonderful, it's thrilling, it's what it is all about.