Times of Middle East

BBC faces outrage as live caller abuses PM Narendra Modi and mother

BBC faced immense criticism in India on Wednesday after a caller abused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his mother on a live call on a radio podcast.

The hashtags #BanBBC and #boycottBBC trended on Indian Twitter throughout the day under which the disgruntled Indian citizens asked Britain-based media, BBC to apologize.

The incident happened on a live radio podcast on Monday in the show Big Debate broadcasted on BBC Asian Network. The segment was recorded and posted online by a popular account called British Indians Voice.

The show discussed a question “Do you feel proud seeing the turban being referred to as a crown in EastEnders?”

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EastEnders is a famous British Soap Opera being aired since 1985. The podcast mostly discussed the discrimination faced by the Sikh and Hindus community in the UK.

It was during the show a Sikh caller named Simon joined in and foul-mouthed PM Narendra Modi. The caller diverted the discussion to the ongoing farmers’ protest in New Delhi. He even used a common Punjabi swear involving his mother.

Journalist Priya Rai, hosting the show, interrupted the caller and said: “Okay hang on, take a second here. Simon, thank you very much for calling,” before she disconnected the call.

BBC, however, aired the edited recorded version of the three-hour-long podcast later on its website. Rai also issued an on-air apology.


“We would like to apologize for the language used by a guest earlier. It’s a live show and we discuss controversial issues but there was no reason for the type of language that was used and I’d like to say sorry again for any offense that was caused,” she said.

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However, the damage was already done with the circulation of the full clip of the conversation on the internet that triggered intense reactions from the BJP-ruling party of India.

Calls have been made to not only ask for an apology from BBC but also to completely ban its broadcast in India. BJP politicians have called the comments derogatory and shameful. The controversy comes at a time when farmers from the northern agrarian state, Punjab are protesting outside Delhi for more than a month now against agricultural reforms.


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