Less than a week into the release of the first part of the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former envoys and other eminent Indians have come down heavily on what they describe as blatant interference in India’s internal affairs and attempt to destroy India-UK bilateral relations.
Speaking with ANI, former Indian envoy to the Netherlands, Bhaswati Mukherjee said the BBC has a troubled record dealing with India because it appears to have a colonial mindset with regard to the country.
“This particular documentary of two parts was a visible example of the fact that although it is public broadcasting service, it does these programmes that are highly discriminatory, interfere in our internal affairs and are funded by private partners and not the British government,” she said.
“BBC is trying to interfere in internal affairs just one year before the general elections in India and also trying to pull down their own PM who rebutted these series and his government is trying to conclude an FTA with us (India). It completely spoils the atmosphere of the negotiations of FTA,” she told ANI.
UK’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a two-part series attacking PM Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister during the Gujarat riots of 2002. The documentary sparked outrage and was removed from select platforms.
In a strong response to the BBC documentary, more than 300 eminent Indians including retired judges, retired bureaucrats, and retired armed forces veterans signed a statement slamming the British national broadcaster for showing “unrelenting prejudice” toward India and its leader.
Eminent Indians have lambasted the BBC series which the signatories say “is based on delusional and evidently lopsided reporting” that presumes to question the very basis of the 75-year-old edifice of India’s existence as an independent, democratic nation.
Former ambassador to Bangladesh, Veena Sikri told ANI that there is no factual reporting in the BBC documentary at all and pointed out how it “keeps talking about allegedly this, reportedly that” while ignoring the decisions of the Indian judiciary.
“The Supreme Court of India has monitored a special investigative report which took several years and the case went on from the lower court to the high court to the Supreme Court to the Special Investigative Team. It is a meticulously monitored and detailed investigation and the 452-page judgement of the Supreme Court has completely exonerated Prime Minister Modi and has explained how the incident took place,” she said.
Ambassador Sikri contended that BBC has completely destroyed its credibility by bringing about such a documentary. She even highlighted that British Prime Minister has rebutted attempts by certain members of parliament and the other British members of parliament have completely criticised BBC.
Furthermore, the former envoy said BBC is “trying to whip up a kind of anti-Indian feeling trying to destroy relationships within India, destroy relationships within the UK and destroy the relationship between India and the UK.”
Similarly, defence expert PK Sehgal believes that this BBC documentary is an “Anglo-Saxon ploy to demolish PM Modi before the 2024 election.”
“They will use print, and social media to target PM Modi. BBC had ruined its credibility like with coming out of this series. Whatever little beliefs that people had on the credibility of BBC, it is gone to an absolute zero. There are no ethics involved,” he said.
Sehgal said that BBC is bent on blaming PM Modi for perpetuating the riots in Gujarat even after Indian Supreme Court constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) exonerated PM Modi long back.
“The western world wants to find fault with Modi and unfortunately for them, the more they indulge in this, the greater will be the belief of the Indian people that Modi is something that is absolutely essential for India to progress,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, India denounced the controversial BBC documentary series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and described it as a “propaganda piece” designed to push a discredited narrative. “We think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias and lack of objectivity and frankly continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a weekly media briefing.
The MEA spokesperson said the documentary is a reflection of individuals that are peddling this narrative again.