Depicting ‘true’ Modi: India blocks BBC documentary

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NEW DELHI : India has blocked the airing of a BBC documentary 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.

The documentary takes a critical look at the role of Modi in the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots.
Multiple YouTube videos of the first episode of the BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question, and more than 50 tweets with links to the YouTube videos were ordered to be taken down, Kanchan Gupta, senior adviser at Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, tweeted on Saturday.
He said that the content was blocked using the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. “Both @YouTube and @Twitter have complied with the directions,” he tweeted.
The first episode of the two-part series documentary, which aired on January 17, tracked Modi’s early years as a politician and his rise through the ranks of the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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 – most of them Muslims. The violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59.The documentary revealed for the first time a United Kingdom government report into the deadly 2002 religious riots. The UK report said the events had “all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing”, the documentary showed.

Jack Straw, who was the UK’s foreign secretary at the time of the violence, was also interviewed in the documentary and said allegations against Modi undermined his reputation.
“These were very serious claims – that Chief Minister Modi had played a pretty active part in pulling back the police and in tacitly encouraging the Hindu extremists,” Straw said. “That was a particularly egregious example.”

“What we did was establish an inquiry and have a team go to Gujarat and find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very thorough report,” he added.The report also claimed there was widespread rape of Muslim women during the 2002 violence. It added that the riots’ objective was to “purge Muslims from Hindu areas” – something critics today have said has become state policy under the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

In 2013, the UK ended a 10-year boycott of Modi over the 2002 riots that killed three British citizens.
The documentary was not made available in India, but it was uploaded on several YouTube channels and shared widely on Twitter, with a number of hashtags trending such as #BBCDocumentary #BBCQuitIndia and #GujaratRiots among others. The second episode will be aired on January 24.