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Indian university reports power outage ahead of screening of Modi documentary

NEW DELHI, Jan 24 (Reuters) – A major Indian university cut power and internet access on campus on Tuesday ahead of its students’ union screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi which India called propaganda, the NDTV television channel reported. .

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the capital New Delhi had threatened disciplinary action if the documentary was screened, saying the move could disrupt peace and harmony on campus.

Modi’s government branded the documentary, which questioned his leadership during deadly riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, a “propaganda piece”, blocked its broadcast and also banned the sharing of any clip via social media in india.

Modi was chief minister of the western state during the violence in which more than 2,000 people were killed, most of them Muslims.

The JNU student union, long considered a bastion of left-wing politics, was due to screen the documentary “India: The Modi Question” at 9 p.m. (1530 GMT).

A person present with students inside the campus said the documentary was now being watched on cellphones through links shared on Telegram and Vimeo. (VMEO.O) after the power cut.

“There are about 300 people streaming the documentary now on campus on their phones since the power went out about half an hour before the screening,” the person, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.

Footage from inside campus showed students huddled together and watching the film on a laptop computer resting on a chair.

JNU’s media coordinator did not comment when asked about reports of an internet outage and power outage inside campus. A source in the administration said a power line outage caused blackouts at faculty residences and other facilities and the issue was being investigated.

The university administration said earlier that it did not allow the documentary to be screened.

“This is to emphasize that such unauthorized activity can disrupt the peace and harmony of the college campus,” he said.

“Students/individuals concerned are strongly advised to immediately cancel the proposed program, failing which strict disciplinary action may be taken in accordance with university rules.”

Union President Aishe Ghosh had asked students via Twitter to attend the screening, describing it as having been “‘banned’ by an ‘elected government’ of the utmost ‘democracy'”.

Ghosh did not return phone calls and a message after news of a power outage on campus.

Police vigilance has been increased following a request from campus, police said.

The documentary was also screened at some campuses in the communist-ruled southern state of Kerala, The Hindu newspaper reported.

India’s Home Ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the government’s plans if the film is screened at JNU and Kerala.

The 2002 violence in Gujarat erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people. Crowds then unleashed in Muslim neighborhoods. In 2017, 11 men were jailed for life for setting the train on fire.

Modi has denied accusations that he did not do enough to stop the riots and was exonerated in 2012 following an investigation overseen by the Supreme Court. Another petition challenging his exoneration was dismissed last year.

Last week, the BBC said the documentary had been “rigorously researched” and involved a wide range of voices and opinions, including responses from members of Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly, Shivam Patel and Rupam Jain; additional reporting by Krishna Kaushik; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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