But he said allegations of police harassment of journalists in J&K are ‘rubbish’.
Two days after the Enforcement Directorate filed a case against BBC India for foreign exchange violations, Kashmir’s former governor and politician Satya Pal Malik said prime minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the BBC is a “terrible mistake”.
In an interview to the Wire, Malik said that the government’s ban on the BBC documentary on Modi should have never been imposed. “The BBC is a very reputed organisation, and people in the country’s rural areas still listen to the BBC radio and believe in it,” he said.
Malik said Modi’s treatment of the media is “his value system” – and Malik doesn’t agree with it.
It should be noted that during the interview with Karan Thapar, Malik also admitted he’d made up his claim last year that home minister Amit Shah said Modi had “lost his mind”. BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya was quick to say this “raises serious questions” on Malik’s credibility.
The former governor also slammed journalists’ accounts on harassment and censorship by the state machinery in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.
For instance, Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin had written in the New York Times last month that journalists were “routinely summoned by the police, interrogated and threatened with charges such as income tax violations or terrorism or separatism”.
Malik said, “Ye sab bakwaas hai.” All this is rubbish. He said that no journalist had complained to him about any such situation. “Our officials would meet the journalists every evening and brief them. They would provide them with any help they needed.”
He continued, “Anuradha Bhasin knew me, she could have dialled me and told me about it. She never rang me to tell me anything. I had given my contact to everyone except one journalist, Barkha Dutt.”
Why not Dutt? Malik said he avoided meeting her because “she was close to somebody who is deep into Kashmir politics”.
We should point out that despite these allegations, Malik sat down with Dutt for an interview in 2021. Also, Newslaundry has reported at length on how journalists are targeted in Kashmir. They were cut down to size during the pandemic, given government orders to change terminology, deprived of ad revenue, arrested and intimidated, and now even worry about a “fifth column” in theist midst.
Additionally, Malik’s interview included explosive remarks on the 2019 Pulwama attack, during which Malik was governor. He said the attack, which killed at least 40 CRPF personnel, was due to “incompetence” by the government, especially the home ministry, and that he’d even raised such lapses with Modi himself.
Watch this episode of TV Newsance on the Pulwama attack and how it led to a war in TV studios.