UK PM Rishi Sunak defends PM Modi over controversial BBC series

Sunak also snubbed Pak-origin Labour Party MP, who asked if he agreed with claims in the BBC show that some UK foreign office diplomats believed that “Modi was responsible” for the 2002 Guj riots.

Published: 19th January 2023 07:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2023 11:12 AM   |  A+A-

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday defended his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in the UK Parliament over a recent BBC documentary titled ‘India: The Modi Question.’Sunak also snubbed Pakistan-origin Labour Party MP, Imran Hussain, who asked if he agreed with claims in the BBC show that some UK foreign office diplomats believed that “Modi was directly responsible” for the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

“The country doesn’t tolerate persecution where it appears anywhere. The UK government’s position on this has been clear and long-standing and hasn’t changed, but I am not sure I agree at all with the characterisation the gentleman has put forward to,’’ Sunak said.

The first part of the two-part 'India: The Modi Question' programme, which aired on BBC Two on January 17, was categorised by the UK tax-payer-funded broadcaster as "a look 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".

The second part of the series, scheduled to be aired next Tuesday, is pegged as a "look at the troubled relationship between Indian PM Narendra Modi's government and India's Muslim minority following his re-election in 2019".

“This has not been screened in India, so I am only going to comment in the context of what I have heard about it and what my colleagues have seen. Let me just make it very clear that we think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, the lack of objectivity and frankly a continuing colonial mindset is blatantly visible,’’ said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. This film is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative, he said.

ALSO READ | 'Propaganda piece to push discredited narrative': India on BBC documentary on PM Modi

The documentary has an interview with former British foreign secretary Jack Straw. In 2015, during a sting operation, Straw boasted to undercover journalists that he had operated ‘under the radar’ to use his influence and change EU rules on behalf of a firm that paid him £60,000 a year.In his pushback, former Indian foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said, “I was FS during the period and am aware of mischief by UK mission.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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