Reacting to the continued bias and propaganda against India, Hindus and PM Modi and the latest biassed reporting and propaganda-driven documentary by the BBC, the British Indian diaspora organised a nationwide protest against the corporation on Sunday 29th January at 12 noon.
British Indians gathered in large numbers in front of BBC offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow. The protest was attended by people of various backgrounds including young children, women, the elderly and people of different religions.
The protest organised by the Indian diaspora across the country at various places on the same day at the same time was supported by many Indian organisations. This shows the concern the community at large feels about the impact of this documentary fuelling more communal hatred. Members of various organisations participated in the protest including but not limited to INSIGHT UK, Overseas Friends of BJP (UK), Friends of India Society International UK, National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHTUK), Hindu Council UK, Vishwa Hindu Kendra Southall, Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), REACH UK, and Indian Diaspora UK (IDUK).
Threats caused by this BBC documentary
The BBC recently telecasted a two-part documentary titled ‘India: The Modi Question” on the 17th and 24th of January 2023. This documentary has been strongly condemned for not meeting the expected standards for editorial impartiality. Contrary to claims by the BBC that the documentary is a rigorously researched piece that examines the 2002 riots and Hindu-Muslim tensions during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the contents and timing of the documentary reflect a biassed and mala fide intention. The BBC, a repeat offender, has disregarded its own charter and impartiality guidelines multiple times. It has been investigated and found guilty of the same by the regulatory body Ofcom.
In the documentary, the BBC tried to rake up the unfortunate incident of the Gujarat riots of 2002 following the burning alive of Hindu pilgrims by an Islamist mob in Gujarat. The BBC conveniently missed highlighting this train incident, the catalyst that started the riots. The riots resulted in the deaths of both Hindus and Muslims, however, the BBC failed to highlight that but projected the riots as a one-sided attack on Muslims.
The BBC has blamed Mr Modi for inaction or delayed action in stopping the riots in Gujarat, the then Chief Minister of the state. It is worth noting that Mr Modi had only just assumed (in a matter of days) the post of the Chief Minister of the state.
These riots happened 20 years ago and many Hindu and Muslim lives were lost and impacted. The riots have been thoroughly investigated and the culprits were punished many years ago. The Apex court of India has already exonerated Mr Modi of any blame for the riots. Still, the BBC has assembled 20 years of biased reportage, peppered it with outdated condiments and garnished it with lots of misplaced victimhood. The entire documentary is based on hearsay, personal opinions of well-known Modi haters and conjecture.
The provocative and divisive documentary contains no legal credibility and ignores the fact that India is the world’s largest democracy with one of the fastest-growing economies. It also ignores the fact that the country’s Supreme Court, after lengthy investigations and due process, has completely absolved Prime Minister Narendra Modi of all allegations of complicity in the 2002 riots. With this documentary, the BBC has shown its disregard for India’s sovereignty, constitution and democratic institutions.
PM Modi’s government is credited with large-scale social and financial inclusion programmes which have benefited millions in India irrespective of their religion or gender or any other characteristic. The BBC failed to analyse and understand the ground reality that under the leadership of PM Modi, his political party has consecutively won two general elections with a landslide victory i.e an absolute majority. India is a large country with the world’s second-largest and highly diverse population and it has seen many communal riots.
The BBC failed to balance the documentary with any credible hard evidence other than a report based on hearsay. It failed to interview Hindu families that were affected by both the Godhra train burning incident or properly detail the accounts of the hundreds of Hindu families that were killed when organised Islamists attacked them. Many Muslims and Hindus have found peace since the event and enjoyed the development of Gujarat. However, it is highly suspicious that this issue seems to be raked up by a foreign news service, that too just before the 2024 general election in India and circulated by various anti-India and non-Indian Muslim organisations on social media.
The BBC also failed to balance coverage of Kashmir. Many Muslims supported the changes by the central government. For example, a Muslim Kashmiri Women’s activist, Syed Tehmeena, approved the removal of Article 370 as it gives women rights to property. The BBC did not cover the other side nor show that the changes will allow the creation of more jobs, and investment and will give women rights to land and education in the region. It also did not highlight the seriousness of the Hindu genocide in Kashmir.
The documentary covered cow vigilantes but did not highlight the impact of cow smuggling on poorer Hindu farmers who rely on cattle stock for their livelihood. When the cow smugglers have been Muslim and caught, the documentary made it out to be a Hindu vs Muslim issue. Rather than the fact the cow smuggler had been caught stealing.
The impact of the BBC documentary
Concerned that this act of the BBC deliberately misinforming its viewers and blaming Hindus could further worsen relations and disturb peace in the UK’s plural and multicultural society, many prominent individuals and Hindu organisations in the UK have condemned and questioned the BBC and called for an independent probe against it for a serious breach of the Royal Charter and its duties as a broadcaster. After the organised and recent premeditated attacks on Hindus in Leicester and Birmingham, the British Indian & Hindu diaspora is more concerned now due to this malicious, biased propaganda-driven documentary of the BBC resulting in more hatred towards British Indians and Hindus.
How the diaspora reacted
The Indian diaspora has started many online petitions and campaigns calling for an independent investigation into the BBC over this documentary:
- More than 22,000 have signed the petition demanding an Independent Investigation into the BBC over the Modi documentary – Petition · Call for an Independent Investigation into the BBC over Modi documentary · Change.org]
- More than 1,000 people have complained to the BBC and their MPs against this biased documentary – https://insightuk.org/bbc-complaints-step-by-step-guide
- “BBC is creating a false narrative against the two-times democratically elected Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. Besides PM Modi was exonerated by the Supreme Court of India,” writes Lord Rami Ranger – UK petition demands independent probe into BBC series on Modi – The Economic Times (indiatimes.com)
- INSIGHT UK ran a social media campaign exposing the bias in the BBC documentary. One of the tweets by INSIGHT UK state: I’m an Indian Muslim and I find #BBCDocumentary a hit job against Modi and India’s rising global profile. An apt analysis on the subject by @zahacktanvir. https://twitter.com/INSIGHTUK2/status/1618604453749489668?s=20&t=r3IbOtxo0TUsmuAwe7syqw
- Hindu Community Organisations Group of Leicester has written to the Labour party leadership about this biased documentary and statement by Labour MP from Bradford https://insightuk.org/hcog-letter-to-keir-starmer
- MP Bob Blackman called the BBC documentary poorly researched, full of innuendos, and downplaying vital facts about the Gujarat riots. He added that the documentary attacks PM Modi, is dismissive of the Supreme Court verdict and may adversely affect India-UK relations – MP Bob Blackman – BBC Documentary is an attack on PM Narendra Modi – INSIGHT UK
- “I was shocked by the documentary produced by the BBC implicating the Hon. Prime Minister of India in the Gujarat riots of 2002 which aired on 17 January 2023” states Lord Popat in his letter to the BBC Director General – UK’s House of Lords member writes to BBC not to air 2nd part of series on PM Modi – Oneindia News
- “This preposterous ill-advised production and airing of a Hindu hate piece could well be the ammunition thugs need to go out and target Hindus. Does the BBC not have any responsibility?” questions the Hindu Forum of Britain in its letter to BBC – https://twitter.com/hfbritain/status/1616145033480253443