By Aneesa Malik
A BBC presenter threatened to eject a panellist live on-air after he attempted to protest about the lack of media coverage of violence against Sikhs in the Punjab.
The campaign got another shot of notoriety when Jagmeet Singh – representing a Sikh point of view and from the educational charity Basics of Sikhi – appeared on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live programme. After a studio debate about interfaith marriage, Singh went off-topic, stood up in front of the camera and interrupted presenter Sian Williams, saying: “Sikhs are being killed in Punjab and nobody is reporting it, please report it.” Williams told him: “I will have to get you taken out unless you allow quiet and respect for guests here and our audience at home.” Video of the episode soon found its way on to YouTube.
Online, protest messages are coming not only from India but from large Sikh communities abroad – especially the UK. One of the first people to re-ignite the hashtag’s popularity was Bally Singh, based in Wolverhampton, who tweeted: “Police violence towards our peaceful Sikh protestors should not go unnoticed.” Many others tweeting compare the clashes with anti-Sikh riots in 1984, during which nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed.
The charity said on Facebook: “So disappointed by the BBC’s treatment of Jagmeet Singh on Sunday Morning Live this morning. The presenter shut down Singh and repeatedly belittled him from bringing up the issue of violence against Sikhs in Punjab.”
The charity also linked to a petition, boasting 70,000 supporters, urging the BBC to cover violence in the Punjab.
The petition states: “Despite the BBC having large presence in India with many reporters stationed there – it has not picked up this story. There is no mention of this on any of the their news media outlets in India or here in the UK”.
Others praised Singh for bringing the issue up. One Twitter user, Rupinder Kaur, posted: “Fair play to Jagmeet Singh – I am outraged that the BBC and others are not reporting the killing of Sikhs in Punjab.”