Minreet Kaur: Ofcom Assessing New Complaints Against Republic Bharat TV For Divisive Farmers Protest Coverage
Republic Bharat, a prominent Indian media outlet that is commonly seen as a pro-Modi, has been previously fined by Ofcom for hate speech in a separate incident
February 16, 2021 | 3 min. read
Last week UK Regulator Ofcom received over 400 complaints regarding a Republic Bharat broadcast on February 4.
Viewers raised issue with several unsubstantiated and false allegations regarding the farmers’ protest in India by guest and pro-BJP actor Kangana Ranaut on the show 10 Main Hai Dum. Common complaints include references to baseless claims that protesting farmers as terrorists, in league with “jihadis”, funded in part by UK Sikhs.
“We have had complaints related to coverage of the farmer’s protests in India. We are assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate”, shared an Ofcom spokesperson.
Republic Bharat, a prominent Indian media outlet that is commonly seen as a pro-Modi, has been previously fined by Ofcom for hate speech in a separate incident.
That is not good enough for Mankamal Singh, who was taken aback by what he heard, “Kangana Ranaut was allowed to claim without any evidence or challenge whatsoever that half a million men and women are terrorists, this accusation was directed solely towards demonizing the Sikh community despite the fact the protesters are from diverse backgrounds,” he continues, “these entirely baseless and demonstrably false accusations passed without challenge on the show. Kangana Ranaut went on to make other equally inflammatory and completely false comments that the Sikh community in the UK was raising money for terrorism.”
Kangana Ranaut is known for her divisive hate speech and is seen as an important mouthpiece for the Modi government. She had recently advocated for genocide against Sikhs, including a call for “eradication”, in a tweet that was subsequently taken down by Twitter.
Davinderpal Singh of the Sikh Press Association (SikhPA), A UK news agency that provides accurate Sikh content for media, has been following the issue closely, “The accusation leveled by Indian media outlets such as Republic Bharat that the farmers on strike are "terrorists" is without merit and has been dismissed as untrue by the Editors Guild of India. Yet some media outlets continue to push this false narrative in order to defame and undermine a peaceful movement for basic human rights.”
Preet Gill, MP for Birmingham and Edgbaston, was left disturbed after seeing the footage, “I’m not surprised there have been 414 complaints to Ofcom, this was very disturbing to watch. Media channels have a duty to make sure the information that they are sharing is factual, that the source is evidenced clearly. It is not for inviting people that have an opinion just to share misinformation and put out a narrative that is absolutely insulting to the very movement and the largest protest we are seeing with respect to the farmers,” she adds, “her interview incites violence and propaganda.”
Gurpal Singh sent a complaint to Ofcom. He was about to sit down for dinner, flicking through the TV, when he came across the show, “The views expressed on Republic TV are a blot on such media and cannot go unchallenged in a diverse, multicultural, multireligious harmonious society as ours. TV channels that import these views should be shut down and not be allowed to spread their hateful views among communities in the UK,” he continues, “my wife, son, and I were left shocked and traumatized by the experience and for the first time ever I complained to Ofcom about what we had just been exposed to in a British living room in the 21st Century.”
Mankamal Singh worries that hateful news coverage common in India is being imported to the UK, “The broadcast content has potential to create tension, stir hatred amongst UK-based communities who have a history of harmonious existence. The guest, presenter & channel in question was allowed to replicate the hateful communalism that characterizes the Indian environment today.”
Davinderpal Singh agrees, “The UK must exercise better quality control over what its citizens are subjected to on TV. Ofcom must be vigilant and prevent dishonest propaganda from airing, and severely reprimand such instances of defamation and slander."
Minreet Kaur is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the UK. Daughter of the legendary skipping Sikh which won report of the year in 2020. She has written for BBC, Sky, The Independent, HuffPost, Al Jazeera, and The Tribune. She writes about religion, culture, communities, and human rights. You find Minreet on Twitter at @minkaur5.
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