Indian officials accused the BBC of spreading “hateful propaganda” with the new documentary on Narendra Modi’s government and its stance on India’s Muslims.
The Indian government lashed out at the BBC over a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The film India: The Modi Question has not been aired in India. The government has now banned sharing clips of the documentary, asking Twitter and YouTube to take down links and videos, Indian news channel NDTV said citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Government adviser Kanchan Gupta confirmed that instructions have been issued under emergency powers granted to the government by the nation’s information technology regulations.
He described the documentary as “hateful propaganda” and said that YouTube and Twitter “have complied with the directions.”
BBC defends series
The documentary is based on an inquiry ordered by the British government into the 2002 communal riots in the Gujarat state that left more than 1,000 people dead. At the time, Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.
According to the BBC website, the first part of the documentary is an investigation into the truth behind allegations “about the attitude of his (Modi’s) government towards India’s Muslim population.”
The second and last part looks at the “troubled relationship” between Modi’s “government and India’s Muslim minority following his re-election in 2019.”
The BBC defended their work saying in a statement that the documentary was “rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards.”
“A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we have featured a range of opinions – this includes responses from people in the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). We offered the Indian Government a right to reply to the matters raised in the series – it declined to respond.”
Earlier, reacting to the documentary the spokesperson for India’s Foreign Ministry said, “We think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative.”
He decried the “lack of objectivity” and “continuing colonial mindset” in the documentary.
Opposition decries ‘censorship’
The government’s move to ban the documentary was also criticized as “censorship” by opposition figures on social media.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Saturday tweeted, “PM and his drumbeaters assert that the new BBC documentary on him is slanderous. Censorship has been imposed.”
Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra wrote, “Govt on war footing to ensure no one in India can watch a mere BBC show. Shame that the emperor and courtiers of the world’s largest democracy are so insecure.”
According to NDTV, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reacted to a question about the BBC documentary saying he “doesn’t agree with the characterization” of his Indian counterpart.
ss/dj (Reuters, AFP)
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