India blocks BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi from airing in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches a series of infrastructure projects from MMRDA Grounds, at Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (East) on January 19, 2023 in Mumbai, India.

Satish Bate | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

India has blocked the airing of a BBC documentary that questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying even sharing clips via social media was banned.

Instructions to prevent the clips from being shared have been issued using the emergency powers the government has under the country’s information technology rules, government adviser Kanchan Gupta said on his account on Saturday. Twitter.

Although the BBC did not air the documentary in India, the video was uploaded to some YouTube channels, Gupta said.

The government ordered Twitter to block more than 50 tweets related to the documentary video, and YouTube was instructed to block any downloads of the video, Gupta said. YouTube and Twitter both complied with the instructions, he added.

Modi was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when he was plagued by communal riots that left more than 1,000 people dead, according to the government tally – most of them Muslims. The violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people.

Human rights activists estimate that at least double that number died in the riots.

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Modi has denied accusations that he failed to stop the riots. A special investigative team appointed by the Supreme Court to investigate the role of Modi and others in the violence said in a 541-page report in 2012 that it had found no evidence to prosecute the chief minister of the time.

Modi was nominated as the candidate for prime minister of his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, in 2013 and led him to power in general elections in 2014 and again in 2019.

Last week, a spokesperson for India’s Foreign Ministry called the BBC documentary a “piece of propaganda” intended to promote a “discredited narrative”.

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