Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati on Friday misreported a private complaint against Wall Street Journal journalist Eric Bellman as a request made by the Ministry of External Affairs to deport him for alleged anti-national behaviour. Bellman, who is the South Asia deputy bureau chief of Wall Street Journal, works out of India.
In a series of tweets, the public broadcaster attached photographs of a complaint filed on the Online Grievance Redressal platform and claimed the ministry asked the Indian Embassy in the United States to look into a request for the immediate deportation of Bellman for his “anti-India behaviour”.
It added that a complaint in this connection had been lodged with the Ministry of External Affairs on March 2 after police complaints were filed against the Wall Street Journal for its alleged false reportage on the communal violence that broke out in Delhi last month, and particularly about the killing of Intelligence Bureau officer Ankit Sharma.
The Wall Street Journal had quoted Ankit Sharma’s brother as saying in a report on February 26 that a mob chanting “Jai Shri Ram” killed him. However, Ankur Sharma later denied issuing such a statement.
After Prasar Bharati’s tweet, the foreign ministry put out a clarification saying no decision has been taken by the government to deport Bellman.
“A complaint was registered against Mister Eric Bellman by a private individual on government’s Online Grievance Redressal platform,” MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “Referring the complaint to the related office is a routine matter as per standard procedure. No such decision on deportation has been taken by the Ministry of External Affairs.”
Shortly after, Prasar Bharati said that unidentified officials have told the broadcaster that the complaint was registered by a private entity and that no decision has been taken on the complaint till now. “As a matter of routine processing, the matter was referred to appropriate department for examination and nothing further needs to be read into the matter,” it added, re-tweeting the MEA’s clarification too. The public broadcaster later deleted its original tweet.
Prasar Bharati, which runs All India Radio and Doordarshan, has in the past too criticised some international publications’ coverage of issues in India. Recently, Prasar Bharati chief Shashi Shekhar Vempati declined an invitation to attend an event hosted by the BBC, citing the British broadcaster’s allegedly one-sided coverage of the communal violence in Delhi. The public broadcaster had also warned The Guardian against “provoking communal hatred” ahead of the Ayodhya verdict in November.