Environment ministry calls for blacklisting BBC scribe

Spl Correspondent
 NEW DELHI, Feb 28 – The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has called for blacklisting of a BBC scribe for his documentary Killing for Conservation. The MoEF has urged the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to revoke the visas of BBC’s South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt and his crew.

The MoEF has also requested the MEA to prevent “their further entry into India for a period not less than five years.”

An office memorandum issued by Assistant Inspector-General of Forest, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Vaibhav C Mathur, on Monday has further advised the wildlife wing of the ministry to “disallow filming permission to BBC in any protected areas of the country for a period of five years.”

The move follows production of the documentary, which explores the anti-poaching strategy adopted by the guards of the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve in Assam. The film claims that the guards have been given powers to shoot and kill those indulging in poaching of rhinoceros at the World Heritage Site.

The NTCA, in its memorandum alleges that the violations by the journalist involve “filming after sunset”, dishonouring the undertaking provided along with “deviating from original synopsis submitted to MEA and its authority.”

It said, “The said person and his agency have committed a complete breach of trust by submitting a false synopsis, with an aim of misleading Government of India officials into giving filming permission and producing the documentary, which shows India’s conservation efforts in poor light, contrary to the synopsis submitted.”

On February 13, the NTCA asked “BBC producer Rowlatt be blacklisted and the BBC be given a warning to adhere to clauses provided in the approvals of the Government of India.” The earlier memorandum described the documentary as “grossly erroneous reporting.”

Killing for Conservation, an investigative documentary made by BBC’s South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt, was aired on February 11. It was filmed in and around the fringes of Kaziranga National Park. The short film depicted the use of force towards suspected poachers by the forest guards for protection of the park’s iconic species – the Indian one-horned rhinoceros.

In the legal notice issued to BBC by the NTCA, it said that Rowlatt faulted in seeking the right to air the movie without submitting the movie to the ministries of Environment and External Affairs for the compulsory review to remove any deviations and showcase the truth.

The notice also asks BBC to show cause within a week as to why the filming permission should not be revoked. The Indian High Commission in UK has also taken up the matter with BBC.

Incidentally, this is the second BBC documentary to be banned in recent years. India’s Daughter on the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case was earlier banned by the Centre. This BBC Four documentary created waves around the world after it was aired on television.

Source : http://assamtribune.com