Lord Indarjit Singh, a prominent Sikh peer in the House of Lords, who quit a regular BBC show named 'Thought for the Day' amid a censorship row over a segment on Sikh teachings, has said that the growing tolerance against free speech in the United Kingdom is "worrying".
Speaking exclusively to , the 85-year-old said, "Some kind of restrictions with respect to free speech has always been there in every country. But, somehow it was better here than many other countries, which is now being reversed very quickly."
"There is a need to raise awareness as this is something totally worrying", said the veteran show host, who protested over the prejudice and intolerance of BBC while blasting them for over-sensitivity.
He added, "There is sort of heightened political correctness. It's gone mad which doesn't allow people to say anything that might offend others. So there is no free speech and there is censorship all around".
"And there is a pressure and they are fearful of upsetting the Muslim community and there is nothing in that which upsets Muslims as it is an example of how all human beings have a history of intolerance towards one another. We should learn from it, and instead of learning from history they are trying to bury it," said Indarjit, while adding that every year they commemorate Easter and other festivals including birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Govind Singh.
"My talk about Guru Tegh Bahadur was agreed by a producer and everything was set to be broadcasted next morning. But, then a senior producer said that he won't allow the talk to go ahead as it might offend Muslims," said Indarjit.
He added, "This is a factual, historical incident that commemorates the martyrdom of someone who is prepared to give his life defending freedom of belief of the Hindu community. This should be commemorated by all people of every religion but she had some imaginary fear of some Muslim extremists being upset or something."
Guru Tegh Bahadur had opposed the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam under the Mughal emperors of India in the 17th century.
He recently quit BBC amid a censorship row over a segment on Sikh teachings which the broadcaster feared might offend Muslims.
Speaking on the same, he said, "This attempt to censor religion is totally wrong and it comes out of misplaced political correctness that we shouldn't say anything that might offend anyone by some stretch of the imagination. That was it. I went on doing it but after that, the senior producer tried to make things harder and then when I was asked about some Christians to talk about the persecution of Christians; she wanted to stop that, just to make things difficult. So I said that I am not going ahead with this show".
"I spoke to BBC that this is intolerable and they had a little investigation. First of all, they sympathised with me saying that yours is a voice of wisdom in intolerant times and they said that will sort something out but they didn't. and then I said that's it then I mustn't prepare myself for any more talks," said Lord Singh who made an official complaint about the incident.
He said that it was not the first time he had been prevented from discussing subjects important to Sikhs.
"They (BBC) know something of the Abrahamic faith-Judaism, Christity and Islam and all others they consider insignificant. We can see that in a number of religious broadcasts, very few are about the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jain community," Indarjit said.
Earlier, BBC told Telegraph that the corporation's Director-General Lord Hall of Birkenhead has said that Naga Munchetty had not breached editorial guidelines on impartiality when she spoke about racism and that the complaint should never have been upheld.
( With inputs from ANI )