Ministry of Information, Government of India has blocked the airing of a BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ which questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying that even sharing of any clips via social media is barred. Directions to block the clips from being shared have been issued using emergency powers available to the government under the country’s information technology rules, said Kanchan Gupta, an adviser to the government, on his Twitter handle on Saturday (Jan 21).
While the BBC has not aired the documentary in India, the video was uploaded on some YouTube channels, Gupta said.
Officials said the documentary is “undermining the sovereignty and integrity of India” and has “the potential to adversely impact” the country’s “friendly relations with foreign states” and “public order within the country.”
New Delhi has issued orders to Twitter to block over 50 tweets linking to the video of the documentary and YouTube has been instructed to block any uploads of the video, he added. Both YouTube and Twitter have complied with the directions, Gupta said.
Modi was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when it was gripped by communal riots that left more than 1,000 people dead, by government count – some of them Muslims.
The violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was set on fire that took a toll of about 59 innocent Hindu lives.
Human rights activists estimate at least double that number died in the rioting but Modi has denied accusations that he failed to stop the rioting.
The government’s fears have proved true as far as the pro-left wing among the students in various universities of India including JNU, AMU, Jadavpur, Ambedkar and Shimla University assembled in respective campuses intending to air the film on the big screen.
The police and security personnel had to be deployed at these and other sensitive places to disallow students from screening the banned film and to pre-empt any attempt at rowdyism that could turn ugly.
It is reported that the pro-left ideological group in JNU clashed with the members of the ABVP activists who would not allow the left-wing followers to violate the ban and screen the film. However, as adamant as the left-wingers were, they provided the facility to the students to see the film on their mobile phones.
Members of the Hindu Sena put up anti-BBC boards outside the UK-based broadcaster’s office at Hindustan Times Building, KG Marg, and protested against its documentary, ‘India: The Modi Question’.
Placards reading “BBC is a threat to India’s unity and it should be banned” and “BBC stop tarnishing India’s image. BBC leave India” were put up outside the main gate of the office amid a row over the controversial documentary. Police later removed the placards.
Hindu Sena national president Vishnu Gupta said, “The BBC is a threat to the unity and integrity of the country and should be banned immediately. BBC has been working to tarnish the image of the country. . . Now, they are targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
A senior Delhi Police officer said a patrolling team in New Delhi found the men putting up the posters and removed them. The men were also removed from the area before they could put up more boards.
The Congress party was quick to organise the public screening of the controversial documentary in Kerala. The documentary has sparked uproar and New Delhi has called it a “propaganda piece”.
According to Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), general secretary GS Babu, a lot of people turned up to watch the BBC documentary. The party also screened the same documentary in Kozhikode.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised the screenings of the BBC documentary in various places in Kerala and said that Congress and CPI (M) together want to “discredit the county and the Prime Minister”.
The documentary highlights the sectarian violence in Gujarat when Modi was the chief minister of the state. The documentary points out the “massive homicide of Muslims” after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was attacked and burnt by a Muslim mob. Human rights groups blamed Modi for doing little to stop the violence. However, India’s Supreme Court dismissed all the allegations targeting the prime minister.
In the documentary, former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, has been featured. Straw said that the British government conducted an inquiry and concluded that the then administration of Modi when he was the CM of Gujarat, had created ” a climate of impunity” for the rioters.
New Delhi has blocked the malignant documentary across all social media platforms. Any attempts to screen the film will be a violation of Intellectual Property Rights, the Ministry of External Affairs has said.
Harshly criticizing PM Narendra Modi, the Al Jazeera commentator said that press freedom in India has declined in recent years. India fell eight places to 150 out of 180 countries in last year’s Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. The publication has accused PM Modi’s government of silencing criticism on social media, particularly on Twitter.
This biased subject matter of the documentary, it’s timing, the mechanism of its release in two parts in which the audience for the first part was restricted to British citizens only and the second part for all English-knowing people, and above all total disregard for the verdict of the Indian Supreme Court that absolved Modi of all charges, all reconfirm the statement of the spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs that it is a meticulous effort of propaganda against the person of Modi.
India is poised for the parliamentary elections in 2024. Modi is a strong candidate and the coming election has cast its shadow on all opposition parties in India whose agenda after the second stint of the BJP government under Modi’s stewardship has been restricted to one item and that is “Remove Modi”.
Never before in its seven decades and a half long democratic dispensation have the opposition parties launched such massive anti-Modi propaganda with iron-cast determination to oppose every policy matter, every developmental programme and every social emancipation activity undertaken by the NDA government during the past four years of the NDA government.
Opposition parties’ opposition to the ruling party is understandable, but it had no qualms of conscience in aligning with it and leading the communal groups among various religious denominations, pro-terrorist and pro-Naxalite segments, rabidly anti-national elements and registered criminals with a police record and standing up to the duly elected government.
During the first and the ongoing second stint in office, what the nation has seen with great despondency is the non-cooperative and crude behaviour of the opposition particularly in disrupting the sessions of the parliament and obstructing the government from seeing through several bills that would have gone in the larger interests of the nation.
Not only that, the rabid opposition did not hesitate to establish a connection with the leadership of the countries hostile to us ever since the independence. Despite clear cases of treason, the NDA government did not impose any restrictions on them.
The reason why all these elements have joined hands to denigrate Modi and have, in the process, succumbed to foreign mischief as well is that they are feeling their parties will be washed away in the coming parliamentary election. They want to come to power by hook or by crook and trample underfoot the interests and verdict of the general masses. The NDA government has taken stringent steps for bringing the corrupt to the book. This is gall to the opponents.
The BBC, as the spokesman of the MEA said is drenched in colonial dirt. It cannot come out of it. As we see, it cannot swallow that India is a rising power and is aspiring for its rightful place in the comity of nations. India is legitimately demanding a seat in the Security Council and a place on many important international committees. India has refused to sign the anti-Russia resolution of the UN for two main reasons. One is that India considers the present structure of the UN as irrational and unacceptable. Secondly, India opposes raising proxies to fight somebody’s battle. The Anglo-American bloc has raised Pakistan as a proxy to fight India. And again, the US has raised Zelensky to fight Russia on behalf of NATO.
This is not the first time that BBC has come out with massive propaganda against India particularly against Modi. By issuing this documentary BBC has shown disrespect to India’s Supreme Court which means disrespecting Indian Constitution. We would like to ask BBC whether it ever broadcast the saga of the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) in 1990 followed by the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir of 400,000 Hindu population. BBC has seldom failed to show its bias against the Hindus and India.
But we would like to salute the British Prime Minister Mr Rishi Sunak who rejected in the British Parliament the wanton and baseless charges brought against India by one British MP of Pakistani origin. We hope that most of the British Parliamentarians have due respect for the Indian Supreme Court and the Indian Constitution. It is for them to take whatever action they feel feasible to deter an important institution like BBC from behaving so irresponsibly and of course with a clear bias against India.