IIMA alumni Anubha Sinha started a petition on Change.org to PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and India’s President Ram Nath Kovind appealing them to withdraw Padma awards of controversial journalists Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai.
In her petition, she writes, “Rajdeep Sardesai was recently convicted in court of Peddling fake news and he has accepted and apologized. Barkha Dutta is infamous for her Niira Radia fixing audio tape. Do you think these people deserve to keep their Padma Awards?” Recently, Sardesai had issued an unconditional apology to an IPS officer for spreading fake news in 2007 in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.
“Why should such liars, fake news peddlers, convicted criminals and fixers be allowed to practice journalism? They should be banned from Journalism and their Padma awards taken back”, Sinha wrote.
The Padma Shri is given by the Government of India to Indian citizens to recognise their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity, including the arts, education, industry, literature, science, sports, social service and public life. It stands fourth in the hierarchy of civilian awards after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan. Rajdeep Sardesai, who was then the Political Editor of NDTV and Barkha Dutt, the then Managing Editor of NDTV 24×7 were conferred with the Padma Shri in 2008 by the then Congress-led UPA government.
Sardesai and Dutt have been time and again accused of peddling one-sided narrative and sometimes misreporting. Recently during Delhi anti-Hindu riots, Sardesai tried to pin the blame of BJP leader Kapil Mishra but locals dismissed it by saying how Mishra is not to be blamed. In January, ahead of Delhi elections, he shared fake news on Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally and deleted tweet twice when reality was pointed out. In fact, after almost two decades, Sardesai even admitted that PM Modi was not responsible for 2002 riots as Gujarat chief minister and that the media had sensationalised the riots.
Similarly, Barkha has also been accused of one-sided reportage. Recently, she came under fire after the Jamia ‘sheroes’ she glamorised turned out to be terrorist sympathiser and called India a fascist state for executing terrorist Yakub Memon. Her reportage of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack also came under fire for endangering the lives of 100s of civilians.