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India asks YouTube and Twitter to block links to BBC film on Modi | News

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

Several YouTube videos from the first episode of the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question and more than 50 tweets with links to the YouTube videos have been removed, said Kanchan Gupta, a senior adviser at the Ministry of Information and Communication. Broadcasting, tweeted the Saturday.

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

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

Modi was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when it was plagued by communal riots that left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. The violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people.

The documentary first revealed a UK government report into 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 40s, was five months pregnant when she was brutally raped during communal violence in 2002. Her rapists were freed by the BJP government in Gujarat state. [File; Ajit Solanki/AP Photo]

Jack Straw, who was Britain’s foreign secretary at the time of the violence, was also interviewed in the documentary and said the allegations against Modi had undermined his reputation.

“These were very serious claims – that Chief Minister Modi had played quite an active role in pulling out the police and tacitly encouraging Hindu extremists,” Straw said. “That was a particularly glaring example.”

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

The report also claimed there was widespread rape of Muslim women during the 2002 violence. It added that the aim of the riots was to ‘purge Muslims from Hindu areas’ – which critics said today Today has become state policy under the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

In 2013, the UK ended a 10-year boycott of Modi following the 2002 riots that killed three British citizens.

“Propaganda Piece”

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

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

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said the film was intended to promote a “discredited narrative”. He added that a “bias”, a “lack of objectivity” and a “continued colonial mindset” are “obviously visible”.

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

The BBC, Britain’s state broadcaster, said its documentary on Modi had been “rigorously researched”.

“The documentary has been rigorously researched 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 BJP members. We offered the Indian government the right to answer questions raised in the series – they refused to answer.

The UK Foreign Office has yet to comment on the matter. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday 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 charges and was exonerated in 2012 following an investigation by India’s top 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 refused to apologize. In the documentary, he told the BBC reporter that the police under his command had done “an excellent job” of controlling the violence in 2002.

Jill McGivering, who interviewed Modi in 2002 for the BBC, recalled in the documentary: “He [Modi] struck me as a very charismatic, very powerful and quite menacing figure.

Several Gujarat BJP leaders and their supporters have been sentenced to long prison terms for their involvement in the violence, but many are now free on bail and 11 men accused of gang rape have been freed by the party in power of Modi, the BJP, last year.

Human rights activists and officials who helped fight for justice for the victims of the riots have faced prosecution, some of whom have been imprisoned.

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

Supporters and activists shout slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Activists shout 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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