Protest Screenings of BBC's Modi Documentary Continue Despite Centre's Efforts to Ban

On Thursday, at least three such screenings were organised – by the Congress in Thiruvananthapuram and the SFI in Kolkata and Hyderabad.

New Delhi: The Kerala unit of the Congress party on Thursday (January 26) screened the BBC documentary on Narendra Modi in Thiruvananthapuram. The Union government has been doing its best to ensure that the documentary is not screened in India, banning links that share it only and disrupting screenings at universities.

This is not the first screening of the documentary screening in the state – left-wing student groups too have screened the documentary there. The state government, ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has come out against the Modi government’s attempts to remove the documentary from online platforms.

The first episode of the two-part documentary looks at the 2002 Gujarat riots, and hold Modi and the state BJP government directly responsible for the violence. The second episode looks at violence against Muslims and discriminatory legislations brought in after Modi came to power in the Centre, particularly after his re-election in 2019.

The Students Federation of India, the students’ wing of the CPI(M), also the screened the documentary in Kolkata’s Jadavpur University on Thursday evening. The police is the Trinamool Congress-run state did not attempt to disrupt the screening.

The SFI also held a screening at the University of Hyderabad on Thursday.

Several student bodies across India – in Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh – have screened the documentary over the last few days, despite university administrations in some cases pulling out all the stops to try and ensure they cannot.

At Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on Tuesday, the administration allegedly cut off both the electricity and internet to stop the screening, and right-wing students allegedly pelted stones at those gathered to watch the documentary. However, the students went ahead with the screening anyway, watching the BBC’s documentary on their laptops and mobile phones.

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In Jamia Millia Islamia on Wednesday, police detained student activists before the screening and riot police was sent to the campus.

Universities in Kerala and Hyderabad too have screened the documentary. The University of Hyderabad administration has ordered a probe into who organised the screening and how it took place.

India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had earlier said that the Indian government thinks “this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative.”

“The bias, the lack of objectivity, and frankly a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible,” he added.

BBC has stood by its documentary, noting that it met the highest editorial standards.