India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has ordered YouTube and Twitter to take down links sharing the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” which reveals that an official UK investigation found the Indian Prime Minister “directly responsible” for an anti-Muslim massacre in Gujarat in 2002.
Indian officials said the documentary has been found to be “undermining the sovereignty and integrity of India,” and has “the potential to adversely impact” the country’s “friendly relations with foreign states” and “public order within the country.”
On Thursday, a day after the BBC aired the first part of the two-part documentary, the government called it “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative.”
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry, said: “The bias, the lack of objectivity and frankly a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible. If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it.”
YouTube and Twitter, officials said, have complied with the directions issued by the Ministry which invoked emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
On the other hand, the government’s actions were condemned by the opposition as “censorship.”
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, the party’s communications in-charge, in a Twitter post, said: “PM and his drumbeaters assert that the new BBC documentary on him is slanderous. Censorship has been imposed.”
Defending the documentary, a spokesperson for the BBC, in a statement on Friday, said: “The documentary was rigorously researched according to the highest editorial standards.”
India: The Modi Question aired on BBC2 last week and reported its the findings were part of an inquiry commissioned by then Foreign Minister Jack Straw who sent a team to Gujurat to investigate.
Around 2,000 people (the vast majority Muslims) were massacred in February/March 2002 after Hindus accused Muslims of burning a train, killing 60 Hindu pilgrims. The circumstances of the train tragedy are heavily disputed.
The UK official report found that there was “widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women,” that the violence was “politically motivated,” and the aim was to “purge Muslims from Hindu areas.”
A former senior British diplomat told the BBC: “At least 2,000 people were murdered during the violence, the vast majority were Muslim. We described it as a pogrom, a deliberate and politically-driven effort targeted at the Muslim community. The violence was widely reported to have been organised by an extremist Hindu nationalist group – the VHP – who have a relationship with the RSS (the extreme Hindu nationalist group of which Modi was a member).”
The UK report found that the VHP and its allies could not have inflicted so much damage without the “climate of impunity” created by the state government, and “Narendra Modi (who was Gujurat Chief Minister at the time) is “directly responsible.”
It added that reliable sources say Modi met senior police officers and ordered them not to intervene in the rioting, but police contacts denied the meeting happened.
Last year India’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that cleared Modi of complicity in the 2002 Gujarat massacres. Modi has always denied the accusation of doing little to stop the anti-Muslim riots.
The violence was initially investigated by the Gujarat Police and subsequently by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court in 2008.
In 2012, investigators submitted their report, saying no evidence was found against Modi in connection with the riots. Their report said there was “no prosecutable evidence” against officials.
You can watch India: The Modi Question here.