UK riots: Sikh TV channel's coverage hailed by UK media
Sangat TV, a Birmingham-based channel mainly in Punjabi, has emerged as the unlikely hero of the ongoing unrest in Britain with live coverage of events including showing its correspondents helping the police tackle rioters.
Indian-origin presenter Upinder Randhawa's sensitive coverage in which he expresses his own disgust at the rioting in Birmingham, captured the imagination of viewers in Birmingham and beyond.
Major broadcasters such as BBC and Sky News have been carrying Sangat TV feeds prominently, while viewers have expressed much appreciation of its live coverage driven by the objective of ensuring normalcy returns to the streets of Birmingham.
Launched in September 2010, the channel is owned by charity organisation Sangat Trust and is supported by donations from gurdwaras and individuals across the UK.
Most of its programming is in Punjabi and includes gurbani and educational programming.
Paul Uppal, the Indian-origin Conservative MP from Wolverhampton South West, hailed the channel's coverage, and said it was 'extraordinary' that its crews were giving lifts and extending help to the police to carry out its duties.
"It is extraordinary that TV crews have been helping police but it is also incredibly uplifting. It shows how much they care about their neighbourhood, their city, their community," he added.
Media commentator Josh Halliday wrote in The Guardian that "While broadcasting Goliaths such as Sky News and ITN have flown in big-name presenters to riot-stricken cities across England, a couple of Sikh men armed with a point-and-shoot camera have stolen the headlines."
"Sangat TV, a four-man operation in a makeshift newsroom in Edgbaston, Birmingham, has had a good riot. Its guerrilla journalism, mostly broadcast live using a handheld camera, has been rebroadcast by CNN, the BBC and media outlets in India," Josh added.
Ranbir Singh Attwal, the 50-year-old community leader behind the channel, is delighted with the attention the channel has received.
The channel's mission is to "spread peace, defend our faiths and educate people," Attwal said adding, "We've done coverage before but only small events in the local Sikh community."
He said that it's about informing people and then all joining together against the criminal element.
"The whole community can outnumber any bad or evil, even if the gangsters outnumber the police. You can only win people with love," he added.
The channel's best moment, described as 'most jaw-dropping moment' was on Tuesday night, while it filmed from a car, a police pursuit of young rioters down a Birmingham backstreet.
With police lagging far behind, Sangat presenter Upinder Randhawa shouted to the officers, "Do you need a lift? We'll give you a lift. Get in the car". Twenty seconds later the rioters were arrested.
"Another live Sangat TV exclusive", Randhawa told his audience.
Hours earlier, he had been close to tears on air while filming a group of distraught Muslim men who had come to know about the death of their friend.
Jit Singh of Sangat TV said, "What we try to do is to actually save the community, to save their values, their shops, by informing them."