BBC journalist, expert on Maoists’ insurgency, slams India Today reporter for simulating armed forces’ operations in Chhattisgarh

From the left, veteran Journalist SALMAN RAVI and a still from Rahul Kanwal's TV SHOW 'JAB WE MET'.

News channel India Today’s lead anchor Rahul Kanwal came under severe condemnation for simulating armed forces’ operations with Maoists in Chhattisgarh, through his TV show, ‘Jab We Met’.

The entire simulated operation had been broadcasted on the show, with Kanwal passing it off as real operations that took place in the state. The disclaimer ‘Representative Video’ and ‘Simulation Exercise’ flashed in small fonts on the top left corner.

His simulated TV show was severely criticized by veteran BBC journalist, Salman Ravi, who had been covering conflict zones  for more than three decades, as ‘a mockery’ of the sacrifices the forces made during these operations.

Revealing how he had regularly faced detentions, incidents of stalking, unidentified bikers taking pictures of his car and having landed in dangerous, tense situations, he said he felt ‘hurt by this kind of journalism’ and said that there were ‘other serious and upright journalists’ in Bastar who have been risking their lives ‘to bring out the real picture’ that the ‘sponsored and embedded journalists para-dropping from Delhi will never do’.

Historian Ramachandra Guha shared an article published on news website Scroll and wrote, “A devastating expose, that shows both anchor and channel in extremely poor light.”

Ravi said that after India Today’s broadcast of the controversial show led by Kanwal, Maoists in the region had become even more active, thereby posing increased risks to ‘real journalists’ covering elections.

Other social media users too condemned Kanwal, calling him a ‘corporate journalist.’ One user wrote, “A national journalist killed brutally at the entry of forest. But a corporate journalist take a easy tour like movie stunt. India heading towards another freedom struggle.” Another user wrote, “Do journalism and viewers a favour and display ‘Representative Video’ in large caption on the screen throughout. Explain to viewers that all of this is just play acting and not real.”

Recently, in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district,a Doordarshan cameraperson and two cops were killed in a Maoist attack. The Naxals responsible for the attack had released a statement alleging that the victim was caught in an ambush and that they did not intend to ‘target the media’.

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