Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati Shashi Shekhar Vempati has declined an invitation to attend an event hosted by the BBC, citing the British broadcaster’s singularly one-sided coverage of the communal violence in Delhi, The Indian Express reported on Friday. Vempati had been invited for the BBC Indian Sportswomen of the Year Awards Night to be held in the national Capital on March 8.
In a letter to the Director General of the BBC Tony Hall, Vempati said he must respectfully decline the invitation because he strongly believed that broadcasters such as the BBC and Prasar Bharati “must respect the sovereignty of the nations we primarily serve even as we collaborate beyond borders on multilateral fora for the greater global good”.
Vempati refers to a news report by BBC journalist Yogita Limaye on March 3 which investigates the role of the Delhi police in the riots. The report, which is based on video evidence and accounts of eyewitnesses, highlights the role of the police in abetting the violence that broke out in North East district of the Capital.
Calling the investigation “one-sided”and “without context”, Vempati said the report 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”.
“In the said report certain visuals have been shown of the Delhi Police without context to insinuate communal behaviour,” the Prasar Bharati chief added in his letter. “Unfortunately, nowhere in the entire report have the BBC journalists mentioned the murderous assault on the men in uniform by a mob which resulted in the death of a Head Constable while in the line of duty and also resulted in the fatal injuries received by a Deputy Commissioner of Police in uniform.”
Vempati also questioned why the BBC is “damningly silent” on the “brutal targeted murder of Intelligence Bureau Officer [Ankit Sharma] through multiple stab woundings numbering in the hundreds”.“As a fellow public broadcaster of global repute, it is dismaying that the BBC has filed such a singularly one-sided version of the incidents of violence in Delhi,” Vempati said.
The toll in the violence that erupted in North East Delhi last week, following communal clashes between supporters and opposers of the Citizenship Amendment Act, rose to 53 on Thursday.
Of the 53 people, 44 died in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, five in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, three people in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, and one person died in Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police said that 654 cases had been registered so far in connection with the violence. This included 47 cases, where charges under the Arms Act were applied. The police added that 1,820 people had either been arrested or detained in relation to the violence.