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BBC stands by its 2017 Kaziranga killings expose

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BBC stands by its 2017 Kaziranga killings expose
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New Delhi: BBC's Director General Tony Hall on Tuesday said that the network stands by its 2017 expose of extrajudicial killings by rangers in Kaziranga National Park and that the organisation's previous letters to the Indian government do not constitute an apology.

Several reports in the Indian media had alleged that the BBC admitted its expose was wrong, but in a letter to Survival International, Hall said: "The documentary, 'One World: Killing for Conservation' was an important piece of BBC original journalism, and we do not accept that any 'mistake' has been made, as has been reported."

The network's South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt's 2017 report on Kaziranga's rhino conservation methods revealed that rangers in Kaziranga had shot dead 106 people in 20 years, and wounded many others, including a seven-year old boy who was maimed for life.

It featured an interview with a park guard who said: "Whenever you see the poachers or any people during night time, we are ordered to shoot them."

The report received a sharp criticism from the Union Environment Ministry for being "grossly erroneous", prompting the government to ban BBC and Rowlatt from filming in all the country's national parks and tiger reserves.

The head of the BBC's Natural History Unit recently wrote to India's National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) expressing his "regrets for the report's adverse impacts", in an attempt to be allowed back into India to film.

However, Hall said that the letter "in no way constitutes an apology for our journalism."

In his letter to Survival International, Hall also acknowledged the vital contribution of local people who helped the network reveal the killings, and expressed his gratitude to them "for their role in helping to bring this important story to light."

"The BBC expose revealed a really shocking level of killings by rangers in Kaziranga. Many people who support conservation were appalled that this was being done in conservation's name. It highlighted just how brutal conservation has become, and how tribal people are too often its victims, rather than its senior partners," Survival International Director Stephen Corry said in a statement.

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