HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on June 23 regarding the defamation and harassment meted out to Dr. S.P. Udayakumar by a news channel -- Republic TV. Dr. Udayakumar is the convenor of the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and is a member of the National Coordination Committee of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP).
On June 20, 2017, a video was telecast by Republic TV, alleged to be a sting operation on Dr. Udayakumar by the channel’s journalists Ms. Shweta Kothari and M. Sanjeevee. Ms. Kothari introduced herself as a research scholar from a university in the United Kingdom seeking his help. Later, Ms. Kothari said that one of her British professors is an environmentalist and is interested about the anti-nuclear struggle and willing to contribute financially. Dr. Udayakumar categorically told her that foreign donations cannot be accepted. Ms.
Kothari repeatedly insisted that he must explore other options to take the donation. Dr. Udayakumar told her that he or the movement does not have a bank account.
All the conversation was recorded on a spycam, without Dr. Udayakumar’s knowledge. The channel created a big uproar and hype over the said ‘sting operation’, with deliberate and wrongful interpretation of facts, and in an attempt to defame and malign Dr. Udayakumar and the anti-nuclear movement in India.
Further, Republic TV’s reportage, especially the news show anchored by its Editor in Chief Mr. Arnab Goswami, was a deliberate attempt to create public opinion against anti-nuclear protests in India. On June 20, 2017, Dr. Udayakumar, in a phone interview with Mr. Goswami, live telecast on the channel, made several attempts to clarify the allegations. Dr. Udayakumar was not allowed to speak, interrupted continuously and harassed by Mr. Goswami.