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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1243800/BBCs-Sonia-Deol-forced-Facebook-Sikhs-furious-TV-film.html

BBC's Sonia Deol is forced off Facebook by Sikhs furious over TV film

By Keri Sutherland

Last updated at 11:19 AM on 17th January 2010

A BBC News presenter has been subjected to a deluge of personal abuse after fronting a documentary about one of the most controversial events in recent Indian history.

Sonia Deol was forced to delete her page on the Facebook website amid a barrage of criticism from fellow Sikhs over her film about the Indian army storming the Golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the faith’s most holy shrines, in 1984.

Now protesters are planning a mass boycott of the licence fee in disgust at what they see as a slur on the controversial religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was killed in the raid.

Many Sikhs consider him a saint and are furious that in Ms Deol’s documentary, 1984: A Sikh Story, he was described as a militant.

They also claim he was depicted in the film in a similar way to Osama Bin Laden.

Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the assault on June 4, 1984, after Bhindranwale and up to 500 armed supporters took refuge in the holy site, apparently fearing arrest amid rising Sikh-Hindu tensions.

Around 500 people died in the ensuing battle, which some Sikhs now refer to as ‘our 9/11’.

As troops moved in, Bhindranwale’s followers fired missiles at Indian tanks.

The BBC has received 52 complaints about the documentary, which attracted 1.3 million viewers and was billed as Ms Deol’s ‘emotional journey back to India in a bid to discover how such an attack could ever have taken place’.

However, community TV station The Sikh Channel says it received more than 8,000 calls to a phone-in about the controversial film.

Channel owner Davinder Singh Bal said: ‘The documentary contained many sweeping statements and didn’t attempt to uncover the truth of what happened.

'Our viewers were not happy. BT said that our exchange was going into overdrive.

‘The BBC is not responding to the Sikh community and we are thinking about organising a campaign to invoke the non-payment of licence fees by the 700,000 Sikhs in Britain.’

Dr Sadhu Singh, chairman of the Council of Sikh Temples, said many viewers were angered that ‘the BBC showed him [bhindranwale] looking like Bin Laden’.

He said: ‘They used pictures of him wearing a turban and holding a gun. To someone who doesn’t know what Sikhism is about, it would be very misleading.

'Sikhs were attacked after September 11, but Sikhs are nothing to do with Bin Laden.

‘Some people are very upset that the documentary also showed Sonia Deol dancing with Hindus as if there is no problem between Hindus and Sikhs.

‘The feeling is still there that people who were responsible for 1984 have not been brought to justice.’

Ms Deol – who hosts BBC Breakfast at weekends and News 24 bulletins – deleted her Facebook profile onWednesday after the row escalated.

She told fans: ‘Time to shut this fan page down guys. Sorry. I know loadsof you have been superb, but a small minority have not understood what I am/am not in control of personally.’

In her introduction to the film, 36-year-old Ms Deol said Bhindranwale was ‘viewed as a militant who had terrorised for long enough’.

And she interviewed General Kuldip Singh Braer, who commanded the Indian forces that stormed the temple in what was known as Operation Blue Star.

The general, who also comes from a Sikh family, said of Bhindranwale: ‘He may have started out as a saint but he didn’t end as a saint.’

Operation Blue Star is believed to have led to the assassination of Mrs Gandhi, who was killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards four months after the attack.

Her death triggered three days of attacks on Sikhs across India, in which 3,000 people were killed.

A BBC source said Ms Deol’s documentary was never intended to be an investigation, saying: ‘It was her personal journey, a look at her reaction to rediscovering her faith as a Sikh.

‘It was for a mainstream channel, BBC1 and there’s only so much you can say in an hour.

'A lot of the attacks on Sonia have been because people think that the documentary reflected her views on Bhindranwale, but she did not give her opinions about him at all.

'She’s also had a lot of supportive comments.’

A BBC spokeswoman said: ‘1984:A Sikh Story was an authored personal journey through the eyes of a young British Sikh and included a range of contributors offering differing points of view.’

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this makes sikhs look so bad. sikh channel is not helpign at all. can we now let this issue go away or are we guna continue looking divided in public.

also i followed the sonia deol fan page and nothing out of the ordinary was s\id on it. it was people giving their opinions. she deleted it she said because she couldnt keep up with it. so clearly shes given the story to the papers and is getting lots of free publicity. why are we falling into her trap? the story has become sonia is a victim, when it should b about what happened 25 yrs ago.

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She has not been forced off Facebook, just the Fan Page she created for herself.

Prior to its termination it had about 2000+ followers.

But seeing as she was constantly explaining herself, many people could have joined just to see what was being said, rather than show support?

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Congrats to UK Sikhs !

Congra\ts for what exactly? Have we shown humilty in this by putting a Sikh (Sonia Deol- Jaswinder Sidhu) off Sikhism alltogeter? The feeling getting from this post is that there are a few shouting and screaming like babies . Where is your Sikhism? If we react in anger have we controlled our 5 Chors. What do you think,?

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how can you be "forced" off face-book??

She's a semi-pro reporter trying to advance her career, seeking publicity at every given oppertunity.

She was not singulary critisised, the whole of the BBc was. The reason she may have got it worse is because she LIED to the sangat on Sikh Channel.

She reminds me of those half-wit, failing celebs on BigBrother finding any excuse for publicity and attention.

Inevitably she will come up with a book or a documentary about how the whole thing scard her.. so she can make more money

using an 18year old spokesman- showing hindus and sikhs doing bhangra and suggested we have moved on????? SHAMELESS... OUR SCARS HAVE NOT HEALED!!!!

she should go back to bbc asian network and play some songs.. thats all shes good for.

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sonia deol cant be praised enough for the work she has done! seriously im not surprised its taken bbc 26 years to make an hour documentary on 84 considering the newer generation are so ungrateful and narrow minded. i feel personally feel embarrassed of all who are giving her a hard time! lay off and find a hobby or something *edited*!

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Guest PunjabSingh

Congrats to UK Sikhs !

Congra\ts for what exactly? Have we shown humilty in this by putting a Sikh (Sonia Deol- Jaswinder Sidhu) off Sikhism alltogeter? The feeling getting from this post is that there are a few shouting and screaming like babies . Where is your Sikhism? If we react in anger have we controlled our 5 Chors. What do you think,?

I stand by my statement .

I have seen on the net,Sikhs abroad particularly in UK are very courageous.Others who are supporting Sonia Deol are doing so in the name of liberty,freedom of speech or commercial interests.

Enough is Enough.If some one attacks our house we cant keep quite .We keeping harping on Sikhi as being liberal or "sarbat daa bhalaa" which is the main essential of Sikhism.But if the other side is not reciprocating and is in fact trying to finish you off or is having bad intentions of women in your household .Will you keep quite ?

RSS soch is now not only in our religious institutions but also in our homes.The situation is much worse than you can imagine.

Cant you see Sonia Deol is not regetting what she has done .Instead she's blaming what she calls "a small minority" of people .Soon she will say that the small minority is doing for political reasons or personal reasons.

And as some one has said she's gathering matter for her future book in which again she will again claim that it was a small minority who was opposing here.

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We are always blaming someone else. The RSS, BJP, Badal, Monay, Whitey, Hindus, Pakis, Sullay, BBC and on and on. Now it's Sonia Deol's turn. It's not anyone else...it's us. We are our own worst enemies. For so long we have been reading Bani, doing Simran, wearing Bana,... but what have we learned? All we've learned is to yell, swear, condemn, hurt, critisise, and divide. If an all white clean sheet is hung up infront of us but their is a small, tiny dirty stain on one of it's corners...and someone asks us "what do you see?" 9 out of 10 (me included) will SCREAM "A dirty sheet!" So what if this Sonia Deol doesn't have the same opinion about certain issues as I do...big deal. I'm guessing most people are upset because of the way Sant Baba Jarnail Singh Ji Mahanpurash was portrayed in the BBC piece. So what's new? Instead of hurling abuses at her which probably just reinforces to her and the rest of the world that "yes they are all hot heads" why not repond by calmy and peacefully correcting the misinformation? Maybe we can create our own documentary about The Blessed Jeevan of Santji and try to present it to the mainstream community? We've tried the protesting, screaming, abusing and it's never worked...for anyone! From what I saw, she seemed genuine about her own spiritual journey. But it seems to me, by our own personality faults and character flaws, it may even turn her away from becoming closer to the Panthic community. She may never realize just how great of Saint Babaji is. Instead of reactng so emotionally in the future lets remain calm and SHOW others that we are spiritual people. When a ripe orange is squeezed really hard, all that comes out of it is nothing but sweet nectar. That's just my 2 cents. Sorry for wasting everyone's time. Bhul Chuk Maaf karna

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh

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We are always blaming someone else. The RSS, BJP, Badal, Monay, Whitey, Hindus, Pakis, Sullay, BBC and on and on. Now it's Sonia Deol's turn. It's not anyone else...it's us. We are our own worst enemies. For so long we have been reading Bani, doing Simran, wearing Bana,... but what have we learned? All we've learned is to yell, swear, condemn, hurt, critisise, and divide. If an all white clean sheet is hung up infront of us but their is a small, tiny dirty stain on one of it's corners...and someone asks us "what do you see?" 9 out of 10 (me included) will SCREAM "A dirty sheet!" So what if this Sonia Deol doesn't have the same opinion about certain issues as I do...big deal. I'm guessing most people are upset because of the way Sant Baba Jarnail Singh Ji Mahanpurash was portrayed in the BBC piece. So what's new? Instead of hurling abuses at her which probably just reinforces to her and the rest of the world that "yes they are all hot heads" why not repond by calmy and peacefully correcting the misinformation? Maybe we can create our own documentary about The Blessed Jeevan of Santji and try to present it to the mainstream community? We've tried the protesting, screaming, abusing and it's never worked...for anyone! From what I saw, she seemed genuine about her own spiritual journey. But it seems to me, by our own personality faults and character flaws, it may even turn her away from becoming closer to the Panthic community. She may never realize just how great of Saint Babaji is. Instead of reactng so emotionally in the future lets remain calm and SHOW others that we are spiritual people. When a ripe orange is squeezed really hard, all that comes out of it is nothing but sweet nectar. That's just my 2 cents. Sorry for wasting everyone's time. Bhul Chuk Maaf karna

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh

Vaheguru. Brilliant reply.

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She was not forced but ran away from criticism. She definitely did not uphold the ideals of her profession by running away and hiding like a coward. Her job is meant for public scrutiny and she is answerable for her research and conduct. The fact that she just ran away means she no longer needs to answer questions to which she probably has no answer. Why go and become a mouthpiece for something if you have no knowledge about it? She went to Damdami taksal to learn about Bhindranwale, what it had to do with her journey as a Sikh i ask you? And by the way how was her childhood? And do you believe she is some kind of Joan of Arc? that we need her? for what? what difference has she made except making people talk! And it is not the people but the govts which decide course of action and they already know what they need to know. Period.

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That's exactly what I'm talking about. We shouldn't react with knee-j erk emotional reactions. There's no need for cursing..it just makes us sound stupid and not dharmic. If we don't agree with someone lets try to understand where that person is coming from. If we treat someone with respect, PERHAPS (maybe, maybe not) they too will take the time to understand where we are coming from. It might sound simple minded but I think it's a very difficult yet a necessary lesson to learn, especially in our Panth today The Golden Rule: "Do unto others what you want them to do to you" which can also imply treat/talk/respond to others how you yourself would like to be treated/talked/responded to. Just like mama use to say, you can catch a lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Peace, Love N' Rock N' Roll, Homies!!!! Actually... just Peace N Love Singho!!!

Gurfateh

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I may add that i liked her documentary when i saw it for the first time. But it was clearly biased against Bhindranwale. The people who were giving history lessons on it included a cold blooded mass murderer who got away with crimes bigger than what he accuses Bhindranwale of clearly becoz he was a Govt man and lives to tell his story. Now Sonia showed bitter critic of Bhindranwale who was almost defeated by Bhindranwale had he not Tanks at his disposal, and whenn some critics ,although not that bitter they arnt killing her family members or raping her mother as was done in the streets of Delhi, criticise her she runs away by citing professional limits. She chose to be a mouthpiece of people of commited mass muders of people and got away, shall we take that she is really dumb or rather too smart?

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I don't disagree with you. Who Santji is wasn't presented accurately in the documentary. I agree with what you are saying, I just think our methods of expressing our opinions don't need to be so angry or bitter. We can still get our points across firmly yet respectfully. I guarantee you more people from our own community and other communities will actually listen to what we have to say if we aren't yelling, stomping or cursing. Our SatGuruji who is Sada Ang Sang and is Parkash in our Hearts is complete SadChidAnand (Truth, Pure Consciousness, Ultimate Bliss) Svaroop. Let's stay connected to That, even when we are trying to get our views and opinions across to those we don't agree with. That's all I'm saying, Veerji. Sorry if I offened anyone.

Gurfateh

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