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Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Shehla Rashid seeks fake-claim apology from Doordarshan

Token compensation of Re 1 sought

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 19.09.19, 02:27 PM
Shehla Rashid Shora

Shehla Rashid Shora (Source: Twitter.com/Shehla_Rashid)

Kashmiri activist Shehla Rashid Shora has demanded an apology from public broadcaster Prasar Bharati over the telecast of footage from a Canada-based web channel where a panellist claims the former student leader had appreciated the December 2001 attack on Parliament.

Doordarshan India had telecast the video footage on August 28, a little over three weeks after the government moved to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, triggering protests in the Valley. Prasar Bharati owns Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio.

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Shora has written to Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati, demanding the apology and a token compensation of Re 1. She has also sought instructions to all DD and AIR channels to not air content without giving individuals such news is aimed at the right to respond.

Such news, she said in her letter last week, has “the effect of violating any person’s rights, or harming his/her/their reputation or person without verifying the truth of such content or claims”.

On Tuesday, Shora tweeted the letter she had sent on September 10, after waiting a week for Vempati to respond.

She shared DD India’s tweet of the video of its Breakfast Show on August 28 when a discussion on the Canada-based web channel, TAG TV, was aired.

In the footage, a London-based, Pakistan-origin activist, Arif Aajakia, is heard saying: “Shehla Rashid Sahiba ne 2001 me Indian Parliament pe jo bomb attack hua tha usko appreciate kiya tha (Shehla Rashid appreciated the bomb attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001).”

Shora, who was 13 years old in 2001, denied making any such remark about the attack that saw some terrorists storm Parliament with assault rifles and grenades.

The attack had left 14 people dead, including the five terrorists. Before the footage is aired the DD India anchor says: “Pak human rights activist Arif Aajakia has exposed tooth and nail the apologists for the Kashmiri separatists….”

TAG TV, which caters to South Asian audiences, is named after its owner Tahir Aslam Gora, a leader of the right-wing People’s Party of Canada.

Vempati’s office replied to queries from The Telegraph, saying: “This office does not comment on editorial decisions of News Units of Prasar Bharati (DD & AIR). (As) Per instructions of CEO Prasar Bharati, the below matter has been referred to the ‘Committee for Editorial Supervision and Compliance’ for examination.”

When asked about the committee’s decision, director-general (news) Mayank Aggarwal told this paper he had nothing to add to the response from the CEO’s office.

In the footage, Aajakia also says: “The MBBS that Shah Faesal has done from Sher-e-Kashmir Medical College (Institute of Medical Sciences), there is none on this side (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir). Neither is there a university, nor a college.”

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is known to have 14 universities and at least four medical colleges.

The suggestion is that people now criticising the Indian government’s policies on Kashmir had benefited from facilities available in the Valley.

Faesal, a former IAS officer turned politician who is now under detention, like dozens of other leaders in the Valley, heads the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement Party.

Shora, a former JNU student activist, is the party’s general secretary.

Shora has demanded disciplinary action against the host and the editor of the programme.

“These are statements that manifestly constitute falsehoods, slander, defamation, libel and/or innuendo. More importantly, the entire programme appears to have been calculated to silence my political speech and to have a chilling effect on me. The video content in question therefore has the effect of causing or attempting to cause harm to my person, reputation; and of violation of my rights, including the freedom of thought and speech,” she said in her letter.

She added: “I am deeply disappointed that an Article 12 Broadcasting Corporation, set up by an Act of Parliament and in effect funded and financed by the State Exchequer chose to air it, and also chose to disseminate that content in different media without even adhering to basic professional ethics of verifying the veracity of those claims or even showing the basic courtesy of extending to me a right to respond to such claims.”

Shora told this paper: “This show was aired on the day the Supreme Court was hearing our (Faesal and her) petition (along with other petitions against the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status). This footage of Arif Aajakia was also shared by several pro-BJP online trolls. It seems that Doordarshan is working in coordination with the BJP’s IT cell. It is unacceptable that a public broadcaster be used for party propaganda.”

Last week, DD News also reported that a journalist, Ahmer Khan, had tweeted Associated Press photos of people in Kashmir allegedly assaulted by the army. Doordarshan claimed the pictures were later “used by many anti-India newspapers”.

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