The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has banned the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from filming across any tiger reserves in India for “breach of trust” during the shoot of its controversial documentary on Kaziranga Tiger Reserve.
It has also advised the External Affairs Ministry to revoke the visa issued to Rowlatt and his crew and take appropriate action to prevent their further entry into India, for a period of not less than five years.
The action against BBC and its correspondent comes two weeks after NTCA served them a show-cause notice for allegedly portraying Kaziranga’s policy of shooting poachers in a very negative light. BBC’s story and documentary titled Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos kicked up a major stir for alleging that the park’s policy has resulted in human rights violations.
To counter the threat of armed poachers, the Assam government has provided immunity to Kaziranga’s forest guards under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Earlier, NTCA’s notice on February 13 had said that BBC provided a false synopsis on its filming plan with surreptitious malintent of obtaining permission from relevant authorities.
The producer has used spasmodic events as an umbrella to judge a gamut of conservation efforts that go into safeguarding our wildlife heritage, with scant understanding of the laws in place. The immunity provided to forest officials under Section 197 of the CrPC has been construed as a shoot-to-kill policy,” the NTCA’s show-cause said.
In his defence, Rowlatt told NTCA on February 14 that there was no attempt to deceive anyone during the filming and that BBC did not refer to the park’s conservation strategy as shoot to kill at any time and he was obliged to find out more about the circumstances of the deaths.