BBC documentary on Modi screened at UoH; ABVP files complaint

Hyderabad: Amid controversy over BBC’s documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’, on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his role in the Gujarat riots Fraternity Movement held a special screening of the first episode of the documentary on the campus of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), on Saturday.

On learning about the screening of the documentary, ABVP activists staged a protest and lodged a complaint with the University registrar and at the Gachibowli police station.

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The release of the documentary has created a stir in the country with Twitter deleting posts on the same reportedly on directions of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting which also issued directions to block the first episode of the documentary.

India: The Modi Question‘ is a BBC documentary series, the first episode of which aired on Tuesday and was taken down from YouTube on Wednesday. On January 24, the second episode of the series is expected to air. The documentary series focuses on Narendra Modi’s tenure as Gujarat’s chief minister.

What is the BBC documentary on Modi?

The new two-part documentary series of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) ‘India: The Modi Question‘ focuses on the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed thousands and left millions homeless, especially in the Muslim community, and the role played by the then chief minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The documentary which is aired only in the United Kingdom looks at the escalating tension between the Muslim community and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as Hindu right-wing organisations – Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The first part of the two-part series, reportedly reveals ‘never-seen-before’ or ‘restricted’ documents in detail. These reports were never published to the public.

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The summary of the report mentions statements such as “extend of violence much greater than reported”, “widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women”, “violence politically motivated”, “aim was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas”, “their systematic of violence has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”.

Speaking to the BBC, former foreign secretary, Jack Straw (2001-2006) said he was personally involved in the investigations as the data and results provided were alarming.

“I was very worried about it. I took a great deal of personal interest because India is an important country with whom we (the UK) have relations. And so, we had to handle it very carefully,” Straw told the BBC, adding, “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.

What was India’s response?

The BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticised harshly by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday.

It was described as a ‘propaganda piece’ with bias intended to advance a specific ‘discredited’ narrative.

“The documentary is a reflection on the agency that has made it. We think it is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, lack of objectivity, and continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible. Can’t dignify such a film,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

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