New Delhi: At least 300 former judges, ambassadors and veterans from the armed forces — including former defence secretary Yogendra Narain, former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Sanjeev Tripathi and former home secretary L.C. Goyal — have slammed the BBC, in a joint letter released Saturday, over a documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling it “unrelenting prejudice” of BBC towards India.
The letter was referring to India: The Modi Question, the BBC two-part docuseries that “looks at the tensions between Indian PM Narendra Modi and India’s Muslim minority, investigating claims about his role in 2002 riots that left over a thousand dead”, over two hour-long episodes.
The documentary was released on 17 January and has since found itself at the center of a lot of controversies with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) condemning it and labelling it as a “propaganda piece” designed to push a “discredited narrative”.
The letter written by 302 ex officials against the BBC: pic.twitter.com/ISOti0lEJ7
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) January 21, 2023
Titled, ‘Delusions of British imperial resurrection?’, the letter echoed the government’s stance and said that glaring factual errors apart, it reeked of “motivated distortion that is mind-numbingly unsubstantiated as it is nefarious” for using words like “allegedly” and “evidently”.
Many former DGPs, commissioners, chief and additional chief secretaries were signatories to the letter.
‘BBC thrives on sensationalism’
The letter especially emphasised the colonial history and relations between India and Britain and termed the docuseries as the “archetype of British past imperialism in India”, where it was “setting itself as both judge and jury to resurrect Hindu-Muslim tensions that overwhelmingly were the creation of British Raj policy of divide and rule”. It also talked of the “patriotism” of the signatories, declaring that as Indians they stand united without “bias against our own”.
Defending the PM, they said that his “active engagement with citizens” — whether in housing and health sectors, or in the education sector — was worthy of “approbation and emulation”.
Also asserting that the Supreme Court had “unequivocally dismissed allegations” against PM Modi, it said the docuseries was nothing but a “visibly motivated chargesheet against our leader, a fellow Indian and a patriot”.
Addressing several points made in the show, it called Article 370 a temporary provision that was not violating constitutional principles; the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) a law to protect minorities and not against Indian Muslims; and the law against ‘Triple-Talaq’ the only Muslim-specific measure meant to empower the women of the religious community.
“(BBC) naturally thrives on sensationalism regardless of how false its basis…it (docuseries) actually calls into question BBC’s own journalistic and ethical principles,” the letter claimed.
The BBC had earlier defended its series in a statement, stating that it was a “rigorously researched” documentary that sought to highlight important issues.