Wed, 23 Jun 2021

Ottawa [Canada], July 12 (ANI): India has lodged a strong protest with the Canadian TV regulator - Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) against a local TV channel for broadcasting a television show which incited violence and hatred against India.

The objection was raised by the Indian High Commission in Canada about a program that was broadcasted by PTN24 channel, on April 26, 2020.

According to the sources, the program in concern was a religious program held annually as a tribute service to militants killed during terrorism in Punjab. It includes a "Sahaj Path", reading of the holy Guru Granth Sahib, followed by a speech from prominent members of the Sikh community.

Sources reveal that these speeches were filled with hatred and incited violence against India. "Although the entire program was full of hateful content, speeches of Harbhajan Singh and Santokh Singh Khela were particularly vitriolic. Harbhajan Singh not only seemed supporting the act of terrorists but also claimed that the Sikh Gurus in Punjab were aiding the terrorists in their mission", said the sources.

It added, "He even referred to the violent action in 1984 at the Sikh pilgrimage of Golden Temple, claiming that the terrorists inside were able to kill many Indian soldiers as they were fighting in the path of the lord".

PTN24 is a television channel that is headquartered in Montreal and has shows on religious programming, world politics, Canadian Politics in the Punjabi language.

The speeches were an attempt to glorify terrorism in Punjab that was responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Sikhs. These speeches have hurt the emotions of those who have lost family members in the senseless violence that prevailed in Punjab in the 1980s and early 90s.

Sources reveal that Santokh Singh Khela openly incited the Sikh community by using phrases like "we will kill the perpetrators of injustice". Khela in his speech glorified the acts of terrorists like Beant Singh and Satwant Singh who assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

He justified the acts of terrorists like Dilawar Singh and Ranjit Singh accused of killing prominent Sikh political leaders during terrorism in Punjab.

The comments of Khela have not only hurt sentiments of the Indian Sikh community but also constitute a crime under Section 264.1 (1) of the Canadian Criminal Procedure. He was an accused in the 1986 conspiracy to hijack an Indian Airlines aircraft from New York, and was let off after 6 years when the conviction was overturned on technical grounds.

"The speeches were not only limited to the broadcast medium but were also shared widely on the official pages of the Channel through Facebook, thus exposing young children at an impressionable age to such hateful content", said sources.

Sources in Indian High Commission in Canada said, "While the individuals responsible for making these inflammatory and bigoted speeches are culpable, Channel PTN24 also stands in violation of multiple Canadian laws and basic policies of the CRTC. The Canadian Broadcasting Policy mandates that the programs should reflect the "Canadian attitude'' and "contribute to share national consciousness and identity."It added, "The inflammatory and hateful speeches in PTN24 Channel related to the above incident clearly do not reflect either. By giving no opportunity for a counter-narrative to the content, the channel has also violated the policy guideline mandating the "Importance of Balance" under the Religious Broadcasting Policy".

Sources said, "The guidelines for ethics on religious programming clearly states that the programs must demonstrate tolerance, integrity and social responsibility, which were violated multiple times vide the hateful speeches".

It is revealed that such acts are condemnable because they not only incite religious violence but also take undue advantage of the openness in Canadian society and abuse the Canadian hospitality.

Hence, the Indian High Commission recommended initiation of necessary action under the Canadian Laws against PTN24 to prevent such acts in future.(ANI)

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