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May 17

Condemning BBC Bangla’s warped report on ICT witness Bali

 
The discovery of Sukhoranjan Bali was a revelation. New Age blew the lid as it reportedin the wee morning hours of the 16th of May, “A witness at the international crimes tribunal in Dhaka who defence lawyers claim to have been abducted from outside the court in November 2012 by law enforcement agents has been found in a Kolkata jail.” Many could not believe it. Many thought that Bali had long ago been deleted from the face of this earth. But it was not to be. The reports came out rolling and I say it again. It was a revelation.
Human Rights Watch (the global organization, not the one on the ground in Bangladesh) was quick to raise its concerns on Bali. It reiterated its commitments to ensuring human rights for all when it said that the authorities in India and Bangladesh should take all necessary steps to protect Shukhoranjan Bali, a long-missing witness in the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh. “The apparent abduction of a witness in a trial at the ICT is a cause for serious concern about the conduct of the prosecution, judges and government,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Among many questions is who ordered the abduction, and how senior the officials involved were.”
WSJ quoted the HRW report when it said, “Shukhoranjan Bali claims he was abducted by Bangladeshi police outside the International Crimes Tribunal building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in November and later handed over to India’s Border Security Force who detained and tortured him, the New York-based rights group said.” 
Aljazeera, not to be left behind, gave its report on the witness abduction as well.
What caught the attention of millions of viewers was a shock report by the BBC Bengali service, an affiliate of the British Broadcasting Service, a standard for journalism worldwide. As David Bergman, the Bangladesh based British journalist who had written the original report in the New Age pointed out in his blog, the level of intentional misinterpretation (falling in the category of yellow journalism) by the BBC Bengali Service was shocking indeed. His blog post contains detailed rebuttal of the atrocious news report posted by the service. 
To tell the truth, what I have read in that post by David Bergman has personally changed my views of the BBC Bangla forever. What should have been a brilliant investigative report by the service (due to the presence of their very own Indian reporter, an Amitabh Bhatyashali on ground) turned out to be deceiving at the least. As I see it, it was an intentional attempt to discredit the New Age report on the abduction of Bali (since it ended with gross misquotations of the Bergman report). Rightly so, David Bergman went as far as to suggest that the report was a breach of BBC’s own editorial guidelines, a statement which brings into question the practices and intentions of the news service itself. 
I have not added or subtracted anything from the original news or the chain of events; neither do I wish to influence anybody in this regard. I have purely written this post as a result of my disgust with the BBC Bangla Service for this intentional case of yellow journalism. I would like to catch the attention Sabir Mustafa, editor of BBC Bangla that 160 million people of Bangladesh (excluding the Indian audience) listen to your shows on radio, internet every day. You in your capacity as editor have an obligation, not to please your readers or the governments which employ you, but to give us the truth. We would like the true story of Shukhranjan Bali to come out through you. Keep your personal views out of it.

1 comment

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