NEW DELHI: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration attempted to stop its internet distribution, a prestigious Indian university has forbidden showing of a BBC documentary about his involvement in the fatal sectarian riots of 2002.
According to the broadcaster’s programme, Hindu nationalist Modi, who was the premier of Gujarat state at the time, gave police orders to ignore a flurry of violence that left at least 1,000 people dead there, the most of them being minority Muslims.
The video was scheduled to be shown on Tuesday at the esteemed Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, overcoming attempts by Indian officials to forbid its screening. The university’s registrar, however, sent a memo late on Monday ordering students to postpone event and threatening “severe disciplinary punishment” if its directive was disobeyed.
According to the statement, “Such an unauthorised action may damage peace and tranquilly of the university campus.” Free speech advocates and opposition politicians have long accused Modi’s administration of suppressing dissent.
On Saturday, the documentary’s social media distribution was thwarted by contentious information technology regulations of India. A government advisor named Kanchan Gupta criticised series as “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage” that was misrepresented as a documentary.
India’s request to social media networks to limit connections to the video, according to Beh Lih Yi of the Committee to Protect Journalists, “flagrantly violates country’s stated commitment to democratic ideals,” she said in a statement on Monday. Gujarat experienced rioting after 59 Hindu pilgrims perished in a train fire in 2002. 31 Muslims were found guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy in relation to that incident.
Modi allegedly met with senior police officers and “ordered them not to intervene” in the subsequent attacks on Muslims, according to unnamed sources cited in a two-part BBC documentary. This data was sourced from a previously unreleased document from British Foreign Office.