The UK government has come to the defense of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) amidst widespread protests from Indian expats against a controversial documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed reporters at Downing Street and echoed the statement made by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Parliament earlier this week, emphasizing that the government continues to invest in its relationship with India and views the country as an "incredibly important international partner."
"The BBC is independent in its output and we would stress that we continue to regard India as an incredibly important international partner," the spokesperson said when he was asked about India's condemnation of the documentary 'India: The Modi Question' questioning the then chief minister's role in the 2002 Godhra riots.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had acknowledged in Parliament the concerns raised by India regarding the documentary and said that he has assured Indian High Commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami, that the UK regards India as an incredibly important partner and will be investing heavily in the relationship over the coming decades.
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"I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Indian High Commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami, on this and a number of other issues," James Cleverly said in Parliament.
"We recognise how this portrayal of the Indian government has played out in India. I made it clear that the BBC is independent in its output, that the UK regards India as an incredibly important international partner and that we will be investing heavily in that relationship in the coming decades," he added.
Tory MP Bob Blackman, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus, questioned the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons, calling the documentary "anti-India propaganda" and asked about the steps taken to reassure India that this propaganda is not the policy of the UK government.
In his response, the Foreign Secretary emphasized the importance of strengthening bilateral ties across all spheres, including trade, and stated that the UK and India are in the midst of negotiations for a "genuine global standard bilateral trade relationship."