Turning down an invitation from the BBC to participate in a programme, the chief of India's Prasar Bharati public broadcaster has accused the British Broadcasting Corporation of filing a “singularly one-sided version” of the recent Delhi violence. He also said that the BBC's coverage had vitiated the atmosphere of the society in the country.
“It is dismaying that the BBC has filed such a singularly one-sided version of the incidents of violence in Delhi which rather than help break the cycle of violence has contributed to further vitiating the atmosphere while insinuating the brave men and women in uniform who are charged with the onerous responsibility of maintaining law and order”, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, chief executive officer of Prasar Bharati, wrote in a letter to Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC.
Vempati has also declined an offer to attend an event to mark International Women’s Day, hosted by the BBC, because of the coverage of the Delhi violence by the British public broadcaster.
He asked the BBC to “respect the sovereignty of nations” and urged it to work together in greater public interest. “I hope the BBC would review its editorial views on reports of this nature in line with this spirit”, Vempati added.
In his letter, Prasar Bharati — an umbrella body of all the public broadcast media — accused the BBC of being “damningly silent on the brutal targeted murder” of security personnel.
In the last few days, the Indian government and police have conveyed displeasure over the perceived biased coverage by the Western media of the recent Delhi violence, in which the death toll swelled to 52 by Thursday evening, while over 400 people remain injured. The communal violence of 24-25 February between Hindus and Muslims was triggered over stone-pelting a day earlier between two groups. Both were sloganeering over the recently amended citizenship law (CAA), which allows citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Some favour the CAA and others oppose it - particularly Muslims at large, who view it as discriminatory against them.
Last week, a police complaint was filed against American publication The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) for "defaming a particular religion and spreading communal tension" by "misreporting" in Delhi and Maharashtra states.
The WSJ reported on 26 February that the killers of an intelligence bureau official in the Delhi violence had shouted "Jai Shri Ram" (Long Live Rama), quoting the deceased official's brother Ankur Sharma, who categorically denied having made such a statement.