NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 09:30
India has banned the broadcast of the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question. The documentary criticizes the actions of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the fierce religious riots in Gujarat in 2002. He was the head of government of that state during that period.
Invoking a tech law from 2021, the Indian government has also ordered Twitter and YouTube to remove videos and links to the documentary. The law empowers the government to remove posts and videos from platforms that undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity and could undermine law and order in the country.
In the BBC documentary, Modi is held “directly responsible” for the religious riots in Gujurat that killed at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. The riots broke out after dozens of Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train that was set on fire the day before. According to the Hindu community, the fire was started by Muslims.
The documentary features a previously unpublished British Foreign Office report that raises questions about Modi’s actions during the religious riots.
The report was part of an investigation into the disturbances commissioned by then-Secretary of State Jack Straw. It states that “the scale of violence was much greater than reported” and that “the purpose of the riots was to drive Muslims out of Hindu areas”.
In the documentary, the former minister says there are very serious indications that then-state prime minister Modi played an active role in withdrawing the police and tacitly encouraging the Hindu extremists. Straw called that “a blatant example of political involvement to prevent the police from doing their job to protect Hindus and Muslims”.
The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed the documentary as propaganda and non-objective. A special investigative team at the Indian Supreme Court investigating the role of Modi and others in the violence concluded in 2012 that no evidence had been found to prosecute Modi. Two years later, Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister of India. There he pursues a Hindu-nationalist course, which regularly encounters resistance from minorities in the country.
India: The Modi Question has not been broadcast live in India. The first part was broadcast in the United Kingdom last Wednesday, the second part can be seen next Tuesday.