The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has urged the Ministry of External Affairs to revoke the visas of BBC’s South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt and his crew, and prevent “their further entry into India for a period not less than five years.”
An office memorandum issued by Vaibhav C. Mathur, Assistant Inspector-General of Forest, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), on February 27 has also 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.”
A reaction from the international broadcaster is awaited.
The move comes in the wake of making of Mr. Rowlatt’s documentary, One World: Killing for Conservation, 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 — a copy of which is with The Hindu — 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 states, “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 “producer Mr. Justin Rowlatt be blacklisted and the BBC be given a warning to adhere to clauses provided in the clearances/approvals of the Government of India.”
The earlier memorandum described the documentary as “grossly erroneous reporting.”