UK regulator Ofcom has suspended the licence of Khalsa Television Limited which broadcasts to the Sikh diaspora on its pro-Khalistan Punjabi TV channel KTV after one of its programmes called on UK-based Sikhs to travel to Punjab to engage in violent crime and disorder to achieve a separate Khalistan state.
The licence was suspended with immediate effect on Thursday when UK foreign secretary Liz Truss landed in Delhi.
“The presenter of the programme made a number of statements throughout the programme which, taken together, promoted violent action, including murder, as an acceptable and necessary form of action to further the Khalistani cause. This was a serious breach of our rules on incitement of crime and disorder,” Ofcom said in its written decision.
Over the course of the 95-minute live discussion programme, Prime Time, broadcast from KTV’s studios in West Bromwich on December 30, 2021, presenter Jagjit Singh Jeeta, a Khalistan advocate, called on Sikhs to emulate Sikh militants of the past and travel to Punjab to engage in violence, up to and including murder, to further the pro-Khalistan cause, Ofcom's decision stated.
The presenter made repeated references to having direct contacts with Sikh militants, including a good rapport with Resham Singh Babbar, the alleged head of the German branch of the Babbar Khalsa, Ofcom said.
“Can you compare yourself with Sant Jarnail Singh (Bhindranwale)? Can you become Satwant Singh, Beant Singh? Can you become Kehar Singh? Can you become Sukha and Jinda?” the presenter asked during the programme, hitting the table. “All of them have embraced martyrdom. Not one fled the arena.”
Ofcom said it considered the suggestion that a long list of militants and assassins were to be emulated because they “embraced martyrdom” and did not flee “the arena”, coupled with the suggestion that work must be carried out “under the table”, was an indirect call to action. Ofcom found that the presenter was advocating murder as an acceptable way to take Khalistan when he said: “Either with the support of the community or through the power of the gun, we will take it.”
Ofcom added it was concerned that a comment — “Bhai Manjit Singh must be listening to me. I am asking you to lead the community” — was a direct request for Manjit Singh, who along with Rajinder Singh Mughalwal murdered a Sikh leader in Southall, for allegedly disrespecting the Sikh faith, to assume leadership of the Sikh community. “We considered that audiences were likely to understand this as a call for further action to be taken of a kind up to and including murder.”
The presenter disapproved of Pakistan ISI’s alleged involvement in the Khalistan movement, saying: “Our Sikh men, those who are sitting in Pakistan are controlled by the ISI. According to me it would have been better if they were martyrs than to have gone to Pakistan. All the sacrifices that Sant Baba Jarnail Singh and all the other warriors made was better. At least they did not become puppets of ISI…”
He also made references to bombs or “packages”, suggesting that Sikhs in Pakistan have carried out bombings on behalf of the ISI. “Both countries carry out bomb blasts in each other’s country, I have proof that they give packages," he said. “Because they are puppets of Pakistan in India and puppets of Punjab in Pakistan.”
Khalsa Television, which has 21 days to make a representation to Ofcom, said it felt Ofcom had a vendetta against the channel, that there was no “call to arms” in the programme and instead it was a call to “positive democratic action” in India.