Historians slam BBC report claiming Winston Churchill was behind ‘mass killing’ of millions during 1943 Bengal famine

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THE BBC has been slammed for a report claiming Winston Churchill was responsible for millions of deaths during the 1943 Bengal famine.

A segment on the famine during News at Ten focused on how Indian people view Churchill as part of a series on Britain’s colonial history.

Indian historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee from Ashoka University said Churchill could be “seen as the precipitator of mass killing” because of his alleged role in causing the Bengal famine in 1943.

Up to three million people are estimated to have died in the famine in British India, now Bangladesh and eastern India, during World War II.

Yasmin Khan, from Oxford University, said Churchill could be held responsible for “prioritising white lives over South Asian lives” by failing to help.

BBC News India correspondent Yogita Limaye said that while Churchill was viewed as a hero in Britain he was blamed by many in India for “making the situation worse” during the famine.

Churchill’s legacy has since been defended and the BBC slammed over the “imbalanced” programme on the wartime leader’s role in the famine.

Times columnist Sir Max Hastings said Churchill’s behaviour during the famine was a “blot on his record” but should be considered against his service to Britain and the rest of the world during the war.

London School of Economics professor Tirthankar Roy told The Times: “Winston Churchill was not a relevant factor behind the 1943 Bengal famine. The agency with the most responsibility for causing the famine and not doing enough was the government of Bengal.”

Meanwhile ex-BBC journalist Tom Mangold accused the programme of promoting the view that Churchill was racist.

“As one who worked for several years on BBC TV News, I am puzzled at the inclusion of items like this – many of them strongly related to the ‘woke’ view of white men in British history – on a hard news programme,” he told The Times.

A BBC spokeswoman told The Sun Online: “The item was the latest in a series looking at Britain’s colonial legacy worldwide.

“The series includes different perspectives from around the world, in this case from India, including a survivor from the Bengal famine, as well as Oxford historian Dr Yasmin Khan.

“The report also clearly explained Churchill’s actions in India in the context of his Second World War strategy. We believe these are all important perspectives to explore and we stand by our journalism.”

The BBC’s report comes after a statue of Churchill was vandalised during the Black Lives Matter protests last month.

Churchill’s name was crossed out and in black spray paint “was a racist” was written underneath.

The BBC came under fire in June for Newsnight host Emily Maitlis’ “biased” rant about Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings.

The Newsnight host slammed Mr Cummings for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules by taking a 260-mile trip from London to Durham in March. After an investigation, police found that Mr Cummings’ trip did not break lockdown rules.

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