Entertainment & Arts

Sikh TV channel fined by Ofcom for inciting violence

Kuldeep Singh Brar
Image caption Kuldeep Singh Brar was attacked in London

A Sikh TV channel has been fined £30,000 over a debate in which guests supported an assassination attempt on a former Indian Army General.

Ofcom said the programme on Sangat TV was "likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder".

It followed an attack on Lt Gen Kuldeep Singh Brar, who led an assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.

The Birmingham-based channel may lodge an appeal against the fine.

Lt Gen Brar, now 78, commanded the controversial military operation to clear Sikh militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar in north-west India.

According to the Indian Government's offical figures, 400 people were killed in the attack, outraging Sikhs around the world who claimed 1,000s of pilgrims were killed.

Lt Gen Brar and his wife were attacked while in London last September by a gang who attempted to cut his throat.

Ofcom said satellite channel Sangat TV broadcast statements in a panel discussion programme which "were an indirect call to members of the Sikh community to take violent action against Lt General Brar and other members of the Indian armed forces". The show was broadcast on 30 September 2012.

The channel's head of programmes, Amarpreet Mann, said the fine was unfair.

"Ofcom haven't shown any kind of flexibility. They have failed to understand the feelings of the Sikhs. We will be contesting the fine," he told the BBC Asian Network.

Following a viewer complaint, Ofcom requested a translation of the debate, with commentators quoted as saying: "If they (who assaulted Brar) were Sikhs, I congratulate them," and "Whatever nation (Brar's attackers) belong to, they will be our diamonds".

The channel's parent company, Regis 1, said it will tone down the amount of controversial debates it has in the future.

Sangat TV's management team is meeting to discuss the issue, and decide on how best to appeal the fine.

They have said previously that anything more than a token fine would be "crippling" because it is a charity-based station, relying on donations from the community to survive.

Amarpreet Mann said: "We've not done anything wrong and it's independent media. Everybody has a right to speak."

You can listen to Asian Network Reports on the BBC Asian Network, weekdays at 1300 and 1700.

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