Indian court bans Al Jazeera documentary on Muslim persecution

Editorial credit: Saikat Paul /

A court in India has banned an upcoming Al Jazeera investigative documentary about hate crimes against Muslims committed by Hindu supremacists.

Last week the Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh barred the Qatari media network from airing the film “India … Who Lit the Fuse?,” saying the broadcast could lead to “evil consequences.”

“Considering the evil consequences that are likely to occur on the telecast/broadcast of film … we are of the view that the broadcast/telecast of the film in question be deferred pending consideration of the cause in the present petition,” the court said as it heard a petition against the film filed by Sudhir Kumar, who alleged the documentary had the potential to create disharmony among citizens and threaten India’s integrity.

The court directed the Indian government to take measures to ensure the film is not broadcast or promoted on social media unless its contents have been examined by the authorities and the necessary authorisation obtained.

The court will next hear the case on July 6.

“India … Who Lit the Fuse?” uncovers the activities of Hindu supremacist outfits, such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the far-right ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The RSS, a militia with millions of members across India, was inspired by the Nazis and aims to create an ethnic Hindu state.

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The film also depicts the harassment and targeting of nearly 700,000 Muslims in the state of Assam, governed by the BJP. Since the passage of a citizenship law in 2019, the Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam fear losing their nationality and being deported to neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Al Jazeera investigation also reveals widespread campaigns across multiple Indian states to demolish properties belonging to Muslims. The campaigns include tearing down homes and businesses, which critics say is an attempt to economically and socially disenfranchise India’s Muslim minority.

According to Al Jazeera, a BJP spokesman has dismissed the allegations made in the documentary, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is committed to rule of law in the Hindu-majority country and individuals accused of targeting Muslims would face severe consequences.

He also defended the RSS, calling it non-discriminatory and working for the welfare of Indians from all the backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians, tribal people and historically disadvantaged groups such as the Dalits.

Earlier this year India banned the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” which revealed 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 had 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.”

Since the banning of the BBC film, its offices in New Delhi and Mumbai have been raided, and Indian authorities have accused the network of tax violations. The BBC denied the charges and said it stands by the facts mentioned in its two-part film.

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