Jack Straw appeared on BBC documentary to woo Muslims, says Ashok Sajjanhar

Sajjanhar, who has worked for the Indian Foreign Service for over three decades questioned how BBC got its hands on the confidential report made by the British High Commission and that it is a breach of the official secrets act.

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By: Urvashi Khona | NEW DELHI
Updated: 23 January, 2023 1:15 pm IST

Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw’s appearance in the dubious BBC documentary which has been dismissed as a piece of propaganda by India’s Ministry of External Affairs could have been motivated by his own political compulsions of wooing the Muslim vote bank in his constituency said former ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar in an exclusive interview to The New Indian.

“I think Jack Straw is really motivated by electoral compulsions because in his constituency there are about 35% Muslims and there is very less than 1% less than half a percent of Hindus in this constituency,” said former ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, one of the 302 eminent signatories who wrote a letter slamming the BBC documentary featuring the former UK foreign secretary.

Sajjanhar, who has worked for the Indian Foreign Service for over three decades questioned how BBC got its hands on the confidential report made by the British High Commission and that it is a breach of the official secrets act.

The BBC Documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” used a hitherto unpublished report on Gujarat riots to indict the Indian Prime Minister, undermining India’s Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter. The report was based on an inquiry by the UK High Commission, commissioned under Straw’s watch. In leaked clips, Straw is heard saying the team sent to Gujarat to probe the Godhra riots had done a “thorough job”.

Sajjanhar says Straw has no soft corner for Muslims. His Muslim appeasement is directed toward electoral ends. “It is not that he has any soft corner as far as Muslims are concerned because he is known to have along with Tony Blair in the early parts of 2000 spoken in favor of the attack on Iraq for possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction. He was in favour of USA carrying out the attack on Iraq, and we know with what results. Thousands of Muslims in Iraq were killed in that. For very short-term political benefits and political advantage that he has come out with these statements.”

Questioning Jack Straw’s locus standi on the issue, Sajjanhar says, “Undertaking an investigation was going much beyond diplomatic responsibilities of the officials who are posted in UK high commission and we should question them as this tantamount to interfering into internal affairs of the country,” he says. Talking to people who are pathologically opposed to Prime Minister Modi. He can come like an opponent to any conclusion but it does not hold any validity. It has no evidence in fact SC in its judgment has said that there is much fraudulent and fake evidence that has been created by opponents of Prime Minister Modi”

Finally, on Rishi Sunak’s response to the documentary in the British Parliament, Sajjanhar says he expected a much stronger reaction from the Prime Minister of the UK. “It can be an attempt to pull him (Sunak) down although I would have expected that Sunak’s support should have been more vigorous and robust for PM Modi,” he said.

On Saturday, over 300 eminent citizens, including 33 retired judges, 133 ex-bureaucrats, and 156 ex-army officers, released a letter on Saturday condemning the British Broadcasting Corporation documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s Muslims. The letter says that the documentary is riddled with factual errors which reek of motivated distortions “reeks of motivated distortion that is as mind-numbingly unsubstantiated as it is nefarious”, stated the letter.

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