India asks YouTube and Twitter to block links to BBC movies about Modi | News

The Indian government has ordered Twitter and YouTube to block links sharing a BBC documentary critically looking at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in deadly Gujarat riots in 2002, according to local media and an Information Ministry adviser. and Broadcasting. .

Several 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 removed by Kanchan Gupta, a senior adviser to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, tweeted on Saturday.

He said the content was blocked using emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. “Both @YouTube and @Twitter have complied with instructions,” he tweeted.

The first episode of the two-part documentary series, which aired on January 17, followed Modi’s early years as a politician and his rise through the ranks of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP).

Modi was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when it was hit by communal riots that left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Muslims. Violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59.

The documentary revealed for the first time a UK government report on the deadly religious riots of 2002. The UK report said the events had “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”, the documentary showed.

Bilkis Bano, one of the survivors of the Gujarat riots.
Bilkis Bano, now in her forties, was five months pregnant when she was brutally gang-raped in 2002 amid communal violence. Her rapists were freed by the BJP government in the state of Gujarat. [File; Ajit Solanki/AP Photo]

Jack Straw, who was the UK Foreign Secretary at the time of the violence, was also interviewed in the documentary and said the allegations against Modi undermined his reputation.

“These were very serious claims – that PM Modi had played quite an active role in pushing back the police and tacitly encouraging Hindu extremists,” Straw said. “That was a particularly egregious example.”

“What we did was set up an investigation and have a team go to Gujarat and find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very comprehensive report,” he added.

The report also claims that there were widespread rapes of Muslim women during the 2002 violence. It added that the aim of the riots was to “purge Muslims from Hindu areas,” something critics 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.

‘Piece of propaganda’

The documentary was not available in India, but was uploaded to various YouTube channels and widely shared on Twitter, with a number of hashtags including #BBCDocumentary #BBCQuitIndia and #GujaratRiots, among others. The second episode will air on January 24.

India’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday dismissed the documentary as a “propaganda piece”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said the film was meant to push a “discredited narrative”. He added that a “bias”, a “lack of objectivity” and a “continuous colonial mentality” are “blatantly visible” in him.

“It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it, and we do not wish to dignify such efforts,” he told a news conference in New Delhi.

The BBC, the UK’s state broadcaster, said its documentary on Modi was “rigorously vetted”.

“The documentary has been rigorously researched according to the highest editorial standards,” the BBC said in a statement.

“A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we presented a range of opinions, this includes responses from people in the BJP. We offered the Indian government the right to respond to the issues raised in the series; refused to answer.”

The UK Foreign Office has not commented on the matter so far. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday that he disagreed with Modi’s characterization in response to a question in parliament.

Narendra Modi greets his cabinet colleagues.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a polarizing figure. [File: Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

Accused of failing to stop the riots, Modi denied the allegations and was exonerated in 2012 following an investigation by India’s highest court. Another petition challenging his exoneration was dismissed last year.

Modi has defended his handling of the worst religious violence in post-independence India and has refused to apologize. In the documentary, he told the BBC journalist that the police under his command did an “excellent job” in controlling the violence in 2002.

Jill McGivering, who interviewed Modi in 2002 for the BBC, recalled in the documentary: “He [Modi] I found him to be a very charismatic figure, very powerful and quite threatening.”

Several Gujarat BJP leaders and their supporters were sentenced to long prison terms for their role in the violence, but many of them are now out on bail and Modi’s ruling BJP party released 11 accused men last year. of gang rape.

Rights advocates and officials who helped fight for justice for the victims of the riots have had cases against them, some of them jailed.

Since Modi became prime minister in 2014, the country has seen a rise in attacks on Muslims, who make up 15 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people.

Supporters and activists shout slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Activists chant slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest against the arrest of Indian activist Teesta Setalvad in Mumbai. Setalvad has since been released on bail. [Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo]

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