BBC presenter Sian Williams threatened to have a guest thrown out after he disrupted the show in protest over the alleged media blackout on Sikh killings in Punjab, India. Jagmeet Singh appeared on Sunday Morning Live to talk about inter-faith marriages in the UK but attempted to bring up the issue of recent violence in Punjab after the discussion on inter-faith marriages had come to a close.
Singh, a representative from the charity Basics of Sikhi, obstructed the camera's view of Williams, saying: "I have to say Sikhs are being killed in Punjab and nobody is reporting it. Please report it." When Singh persisted with his comments, Williams grew increasingly frustrated and threatened to have him removed from the show. The presenter then directed viewers' attention to an unrelated clip and Singh was no longer seated on the panel when they returned.
Singh's on-air protest comes as more than 75,000 people have signed a petition against the BBC, calling on them to end their "media blackout" on violence against Sikhs in India. Two Sikh men died last week when protesters clashed with police in the Punjab district of Kotkapura, and nearly 70 people were injured.
Protesters were demanding the arrest of those responsible for tearing hundreds of pages from the Sikh holy scripture and scattering them around the village of Bargari two days earlier.
A spokesperson for the Basics of Sikhi charity said: "[We are] so disappointed by the BBC's treatment of Jagmeet Singh on Sunday Morning Live. The presenter shut down Singh and repeatedly belittled him for bringing up the issue of violence against Sikhs in Punjab."
However, the BBC has defended Williams, saying she dealt with the "unplanned" incident "professionally and appropriately".
Meanwhile, Amrik Singh of the Sikh Federation UK said: "We think loss of innocent Sikh lives in Punjab where the majority of Sikhs live is an area that is of wider interest to the public and not just Asians." He accused the BBC of relegating "Sikh issues" to their Asia Network and branded the move as "discriminatory".
Many took to Twitter to criticise the BBC's treatment of Singh following his appearance on the show, questioning why the BBC was refusing to report on the violence in Punjab. Some also criticised the presenter and other panellists for cutting off Singh when he attempted to explain his stance on inter-faith marriages.