Friday, February 3, 2023

Documentary on PM Modi: Supreme Court petition seeks total ban on BBC in India, UK government claims BBC is 'independent'

Documentary on PM Modi: Plea in Supreme Court seeks complete ban on BBC in India, UK govt says BBC ‘independent’


LONDON: Following protests by the Indian diaspora in the UK against a contentious documentary titled "India: The Modi Question," which was broadcast by the national broadcaster of Britain.

No. 10 Downing Street emphasized that it intends to maintain its significant investment in India's relationship.

Many people in British and Indian circles are worried that the fallout of the documentary could hurt relations between the UK and India, which had been improving and there was talk of an FTA.

According to the official spokesperson for British PM Rishi Sunak, James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary, met with Vikram K. Doraiswami, the Indian high commissioner to the UK, in late Wednesday to discuss concerns regarding the controversial BBC Two documentary.

The spokesperson stated in response to a question from TOI at a Downing Street briefing regarding whether Sunak was concerned that this documentary might have an adverse effect on the FTA and relations between the UK and India: We clearly recognize the manner in which the Indian government was portrayed in the BBC documentary. The issue has been discussed by the foreign secretary and the Indian high commissioner in London. We would like to emphasize that the BBC's output is independent, as you will see. India remains an extremely significant international partner for us. Over the coming decades, we will be making significant investments in our relationship with India. We are confident that it will only grow stronger.

Following the "anti-India propaganda broadcast by the BBC," MP Bob Blackman had asked Cleverly on Monday about the widespread protests that had taken place on Sunday outside BBC headquarters. What conversations has my right hon. friend had with the Indian high commissioner to reassure our Commonwealth partner that this propaganda is not the government's policy? Ingeniously responded: I recently had the chance to discuss this and a number of other topics with the Indian high commissioner. I clarified that the BBC is autonomous in its result, that the UK sees India as an amazingly significant global accomplice."

The unpublished UK internal report on the 2002 post-Godhra riots, which the BBC claims to have obtained in the first episode of the documentary, was the subject of further investigation by TOI at the Downing Street briefing. The spokesperson for the PM stated: I would direct you to the foreign office because I am unaware of the specifics of the report.

TOI also asked Sunak's spokesperson at the same briefing whether there were plans to limit international students or reduce the two-year post-study work visa in order to reduce immigration, as has been speculated in British media. Our points-based immigration system, which we introduced, is specifically designed to adapt to our own needs and interests. I will not comment on speculation regarding the future policy. The spokesperson stated, "We will always consider options to ensure that the immigration system delivers for British people, including examining the issue of students and dependents."

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