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Saturday January 28, 2023

All about Modi

By Editorial Board
January 25, 2023

The latest on the hit list of India’s Hindutva brigade is the BBC. The British broadcaster has recently aired a two-part documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’. The documentary chronicles the way Modi’s India sees and deals with its Muslim minority, and also includes the Gujarat pogrom in 2002 which is Modi’s handiwork and for which he had garnered a negative perception much before he became premier. While the documentary was aired in the UK, some clips from the first part went viral on social media, expectedly prompting the Indian government to invoke ‘emergency powers’ under its IT Rules, 2021, to block content from BBC World Service. India’s foreign ministry has dubbed the documentary as “propaganda” designed to push a “discredited narrative”. According to the Indian government, both YouTube and Twitter have complied with the order to block this documentary.

The BBC has responded by saying that the documentary was “rigorously researched according to the highest editorial standards”. It highlights a previously unpublished report obtained by the BBC from the British Foreign Office that raised questions about Modi’s role and claimed that Modi was “directly responsible” for the “climate of impunity” in the 2002 violence. Jack Straw, the then British foreign secretary, had ordered an inquiry and the unpublished report was part of it. In the BBC documentary, Jack Straw says that there were serious claims that Modi played a “proactive part in pulling back police and in tacitly encouraging the Hindu extremists”. More than a thousand people, mostly Muslims, had died during the 2002 riots.

The Indian government’s reaction to the BBC documentary is evidence of how the Modi regime does not want its own citizens to see a truth the world has known for over two decades. The way the BJP government has censored foreign content because it shows the true colours of Modi also highlights the growing culture of censorship in the Indian media. In 2021, Narendra Modi had made it to the list of 37 heads of state or government that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) identified as ‘predators of press freedom’. The BBC documentary is another stark reminder that Modi played an active role in the Gujarat pogrom and has built his political career on his anti-Muslim and pro-Hindutva policies. No wonder then that the Indian government has resorted to banning the documentary because it clearly shows Modi’s role as the chief minister of Gujarat overlooking ethnic cleansing of the Muslim community under his watch. Modi’s India has been even worse than anyone had imagined. The India of today is one where its numerous minorities, numbering over 200 million, live in fear. India’s pluralism may always have been exaggerated but under Modi it has effectively been obliterated. The sharp rise in attacks on Indian Muslims have been highlighted by all international human rights organizations and even governments. It is a travesty of justice that the Indian Muslims who suffered at Modi’s hands in 2002 continue to suffer in silence more brazen attacks only because of the faith they profess. The world cannot continue to silently watch their plight.

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