India blocks broadcast of BBC documentary on Modi in India

MUMBAI, January 22 (Reuters) – India has blocked the broadcast of a BBC documentary questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Directions to prevent the clips from being shared were issued using emergency powers available to the government under the country’s information technology rules, Kanchan Gupta, a government adviser, said on his Twitter account on Saturday.

While the BBC has not aired the documentary in India, the video has been uploaded to some YouTube channels, Gupta said.

The government has ordered Twitter to block more than 50 tweets linking to the documentary’s video, and YouTube has been ordered to block all uploads of the video, Gupta said. Both YouTube and Twitter followed directions, he added.

Modi was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when it was gripped by communal riots that left more than 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims. Violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59.

Human rights activists estimate that at least double that number died in the riots.

Modi denied allegations that he had failed to stop the riots. A special investigative team appointed by the Supreme Court to investigate the role of Modi and others in the violence said in a 541-page report in 2012 that it could find no evidence to prosecute the then prime minister.

Modi was later appointed head of his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which he brought to power in general elections in 2014 and then in 2019.

Last week, a spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry called the BBC documentary a “propaganda piece” designed to promote a “discredited narrative”.

Reporting by Ira Dugal; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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