Tory leader asked BBC chief if ‘Pakistan origin staff’ was behind Modi film

Published January 31, 2023
LORD Raminder Singh Ranger. —Twitter / RamiRanger.
LORD Raminder Singh Ranger. —Twitter / RamiRanger.

A Conservative member of the UK’s House of Lords is facing criticism for his “racially charged” remarks over BBC’s documentary about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Guardian reported on Monday.

Raminder Singh Ranger, also known as Lord Rami Ranger, who belongs to the Conservative party, wrote a letter to BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, asking “if your Pakistani-origin staff were behind this nonsense”.

The documentary, which questio­ned Mr Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, was released earlier this month. India has already ter­med the documentary ‘propaganda’.

The Tory leader called the documentary “insensitive”, one-sided, and accused the BBC of having “opened old wounds by creating hatred between British Hindus and Muslims,” the Guardian added.

India’s Supreme Court to take up petitions against govt’s move to block documentary

Mr Ranger called the film an insult to the Indian prime minister claiming he had been exonerated from having any involvement in the riots.

Mr Modi was exonerated in 2012 following an inquiry overseen by the Supreme Court and a petition questioning his exoneration was dismissed in 2022, according to Reuters.

In his response, Mr Ranger defended his remarks.

“I referred to ‘any Pakistani origin’ staff of the BBC as, unfortunately, the politics of the subcontinent has been known to impact the UK, which again not conducive or helpful to our social cohesion and fragile race relation in building greater community relations,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

India has already called the documentary a “propaganda piece” meant to push a “discredited narrative”. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said a “bias”, “lack of objectivity”, and “continuing colonial mindset” is “blatantly visible” in the production.

Views similar to India’s stance have been echoed by another House of Lords member as well.

Another Conservative member, Dolar Popat, wrote to the BBC director general on the day the second part of the documentary was released, calling it “heavily one-sided” and urging for the film to be pulled, the Guardian added.

The BBC has defended the journalists behind the documentary. A spokesperson said the film was “rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards”.

SC to take up petitions

The Indian government’s action to block the documentary on YouTube and Twitter using emergency powers under its IT rules has been challenged in the Supreme Court which will consider the petitions next week, Reuters has reported.

The Supreme Court will take up the petitions next week, Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said in court on Monday.

A New Delhi-based lawyer, M L Sharma, opposed the government’s move in one of the petitions, according to Reuters.

A separate petition by lawyer Prashant Bhushan, journalist N. Ram and opposition politician Mahua Moitra focused on the order to take down social media links to the documentary.

In a Twitter comment on the second petition, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “This is how they waste the precious time of the Honourable Supreme Court, where thousands of common citizens are waiting and seeking dates for justice.”

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023

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