Barkha Dutt is an Indian TV journalist and columnist. She is currently the Group Editor, English News at New Delhi Television. In 2010 she was one of the journalists taped in the 2G lobbying Radia tapes controversy. This scandal has also been called Barkhagate and there is rumour that she may be called up as part of the 2G scam trial.
She was given Padma Shree by the Congress government for her services to them.
During the Kargil conflict, Indian Army sources repeatedly complained to NDTV channel that Barkha Dutt was giving away locations in her broadcasts, thus causing Indian casualties.
26 11 Mumbai attacks
Barkha Dutt gave away locations of those hiding in Taj and Oberoi on national television during the seige of Mumbai. In one instance she asks a husband about his wife being stuck, or held as a hostage. The poor guy adds in the end about where she was last hiding. And be sure to thank NDTV for not censoring this bit of information. In another instance, a General sort of suggests that there were no hostages in Oberoi Trident. Then Barkha Dutt called the head of Oberoi and confirmed a possibility of 100 or more people still in the building. The loss of life was compounded by the difficulty caused to NSG commandos due to live coverage of their offensive actions by Barkha Dutt.
Any Indian would have expected cases registered against Barkha Dutt for causing death of innocents. She was instead given Padma Shree by the Congress government the same year.
Role in killing of Sabina Saikias
Sabina was the consulting editor with The Times of India. The sequence of events that led to her death is very tragic. On the day of Mumbai attacks Barkha Dutt went hysteric with live reports on location of people trapped inside Taj and Oberoi hotels.
On the night before her death, Barka interviewed Sabina's husband ,Santanu live on TV, she emotionally manipulated the poor man to reveal his wife's last location & he blurted it out. The terrorists set the 5th & 6th floor of the hotel as soon as this was broadcast. Mr Santanu was very magnanimous & sought closure of the entire painful episode, thereby sparing Barkha Dutt of legal action.
Sabina had gone to Mumbai to attend a wedding and was staying at the Taj hotel's heritage wing. She is survived by her two children — a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son at time of death.
Surprisingly Barkha Dutt termed the Gujarati people as "traditionally effete people". This comment was made in relation to the huge popularity of Narendra Modi in Gujarat and his party sweeping elections.
Radia tapes controversy
See 2G scam
In November 2010, OPEN magazine carried a story which reported transcripts of some of the telephone conversations of Nira Radia with senior journalists, politicians, and corporate houses, many of whom have denied the allegations. The Central Bureau of Investigation has announced that they have 5,851 recordings of phone conversations by Radia, some of which outline Radia's attempts to broker deals in relation to the 2G spectrum sale. In one of the tapes Barkha, assures Radia of getting Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary to talk to Karunanidhi to get the portfolios in the Union cabinet fixed. Barkha has denied acting on any promise to pass on messages to the Congress. In a subsequent tape, Nira Radia is heard saying ‘Barkha has got Congress(political party) to issue a statement’. This scandal has also been called Barkhagate Dutt denies the allegations.
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Former executive editor of Tehelka weekly, Ajit Sahi demanded immediate arrest of Barkha Dutt. She remains aloof till date.
Legal notices against bloggers
Ms. Dutt served legal notices to a number of bloggers, notably Chyetanya Kunte, who allegedly had criticized her for "breaking every rule of ethical journalism in reporting the Mumbai mayhem." through one of his blog posts titled "Shoddy Journalism". Many Indian bloggers have expressed their sharp dissatisfaction towards her and her employer, NDTV for attempting to censor their right to freedom of speech by way of such legal actions. Barkha's reports on Naxalite Violence in Dantewada have been found to be factually incorrect and naive by some observers.
Barkha Dutt has at times resorted to threatening people with lawsuits, when she came across opinions against her in social networks. Many ordinary citizens have deleted their comments for fear of being hounded by corporate lawyers. Interestingly Barkha Dutt is a vocal advocate of free speech.
Barkha Dutt was booed by people when she reached India Gate to host a show on corruption. People seemed to be angry at her role in 2G scam as well as her maligning of the Anti corruption movement in India. Seeing the protest NDTV cancelled the show.
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