Veteran British Indian MP Virendra Sharma blasted the BBC for its “deeply insulting” depiction of an incomplete map of India, which had the boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir entirely missing, prompting an apology from the UK-headquartered media organisation.
In a video broadcast about President-elect Joe Biden on BBC World Service entitled “US Election 2020: What do countries around the world want from Joe Biden”, the graphic depicting the map of India was incompletely highlighted in red with the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir missing.
Sharma, the member of Parliament for the Opposition Labour Party and chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), issued an angry letter to the Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Tim Davie, this week and called for an explanation of the editorial guidelines followed.
“I am very disappointed by the map used by the BBC World Service that shows an incomplete India. As the Chair of the India APPG, I have written to the BBC DG asking for this map to be immediately withdrawn and editorial guidance issued to ensure it doesn't happen again,” said Sharma.
His letter reads: “This map shows an incomplete India, it does not highlight Jammu and Kashmir which is recognised as a core and integral part of India. To represent Jammu and Kashmir as anything less than Indian is deeply insulting to millions of Indians living here in the UK and in India.
“I would like to request that this graphic is withdrawn and republished with correct boundaries, and that action is taken to prevent this happening again. I would also like to know what editorial guidelines exist on this, and for you to ensure that they represent the situation fairly and responsibly with Jammu and Kashmir as a fundamental and integral part of India.”
Social media outrage
The letter dated January 18 by Sharma, who represents the constituency of Ealing-Southall – a major hub of the British Indian diaspora in west London, followed a social media outpouring over the issue.
“#BritishIndians demand an apology from @BBCNews and @BBCWorldService and rectify the mistake and show a correct map of India,” demanded the group British Indians Voice on Twitter.
Others questioned how the United Kingdom would feel if Indian channels depicted the UK map with the geographical boundaries of Scotland missing.
The BBC responded with an apology and updated the online broadcast with the map of India reflecting the boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir in the standard format used by the news channel in the UK.
“From London we mistakenly published a map of India online which contained inaccuracies and is not the standard map used by BBC News. It has now been corrected. We apologise for any offence caused,” a BBC spokesperson said.