Police in India use force to block screening of BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Police in India use force to block screening of BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Police in riot gear blocked students from entering a university in India’s capital Wednesday to stop a scheduled screening of a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has been banned in the country. At least four people were reportedly detained by police, including officers in plain clothes, at Jamia Milia Islamia University.

India Modi BBC Documentary
Police in plain clothes detain a Students Federation of India activist outside Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, January 25, 2023.

Manish Swarup/AP

Students at another top Delhi college, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said power and internet connections were cut the previous day to stop them showing the documentary on their campus.

Among other topics, the two-part documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” examines Modi’s role in deadly religious riots that hit Gujarat in 2002, when he was the chief minister of the western Indian state. More than 1,000 Muslims were killed by Hindu mobs during the riots, which broke out after 59 Hindu pilgrims died in a fire on train. Muslims were accused of attacking the train.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) gestures during a swearing in ceremony of Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel (L) after Gujarat state assembly elections, in Gandhinagar, December 12, 2022.


Modi faced allegations of complicity in the violence and giving a free hand to violent Hindu mobs to avenge the train incident.

The documentary also highlights a previously unpublished report, obtained by the BBC from the British Foreign Office, which raises questions about Modi’s actions during the religious riots.

The report claims that Modi was “directly responsible” for a “climate of impunity” that enabled the violence.

The documentary includes an interview with former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who says a British government investigation at the time determined the violence by Hindu nationalists was meant to “purge” Muslims from Hindu areas, and that those efforts bore the “hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing.”

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