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The BBC Documentary On Modi Triggers Backlash In India

The BBC aired a documentary that examines Prime Minister Modi’s role in anti-Muslim raids in his home state of Gujarat in 2002. His government banned the film and forced Twitter and YouTube to block clips using emergency powers.

India’s Modi has denied accusations that he allowed police to turn a blind eye to the violence, which left more than 1,000 people dead. But the documentary has revived old allegations.

India: The Modi Question

A revealing documentary by the bbc documentary on modi investigates tensions between India’s government and its Muslims following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election in 2019. The series examines allegations that Modi’s policies reflect prejudice against India’s Muslim population. The program also looks at the backstory to these allegations and explores Modi’s relationship with India’s largest religion.

The film has provoked an outcry from the Indian government. Government officials have called it “hostile propaganda” and accused the BBC of a continuing colonial mindset. The government has even threatened to shut down the BBC. The BBC responded by saying that it had followed rigorous editorial standards and had been “rigorously researched.”

In an effort to prevent the documentary from reaching a large audience, India’s government has blocked access to it online. They used emergency laws to ban links and clips from being shared, and YouTube and Twitter complied with the order. But it’s not hard for enterprising viewers to circumvent the block, either by using virtual private networks or trading flash drives.

On Tuesday, students at Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University defied a university-imposed ban to screen the documentary. They sat down to watch, but soon they were confronted by masked protesters who threw stones and threatened to burn their belongings.

Modi’s defenders argue that the film is unfair and seeks to undermine the government’s legacy. But critics point to a series of alleged human rights violations under his leadership, including attacks on minorities, institutions that show bias, and the suppression of activists and journalists.

As India rises to prominence on the global stage and courting by western powers, these allegations must be addressed. If not, they could sour relations with the US and UK, which have struck trade deals and close alliances with the world’s second-largest democracy. This documentary asks the tough questions that must be answered. The Modi Question premieres today on BBC Select. (Restrictions apply*). Watch more acclaimed documentaries on BBC Select today.

Part 1

The BBC’s two-part documentary examining Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his alleged role in deadly sectarian riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002 has triggered a backlash in India. The government blocked the broadcaster’s video from being shared on social media and websites and raided its offices, accusing it of “hostile propaganda”.

The first part of India: The Modi Question delves into allegations that Modi failed to do enough to stop mass anti-Muslim violence that followed a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was set on fire. More than 1,000 people were killed in the subsequent riots. The documentary quotes a report by the UK Foreign Office at the time which held Modi directly responsible for the riots, calling them an example of “ethnic cleansing”.

In an interview with the BBC’s Jill McGivering, former chief of police intelligence in the state of Gujarat, RB Sreekumar and another senior state police officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, both accused of lying to the courts over their evidence against the Modi government, said they were persecuted after speaking out. The documentary also points out that a senior police officer who stood by his sworn testimony against Modi was jailed for life.

Modi has denied the accusations and a Supreme Court investigation found no evidence to prosecute him. Nonetheless, they have continued to haunt him. The documentary also examines allegations that the riots were engineered to divert attention from corruption scandals at his home state.

As India rises on the world stage and becomes one of the most populous nations, questions about its past atrocities and current discrimination against minorities are increasingly important. It is widely expected to take a bigger role in global affairs and has been praised by the US and Europe for its economic progress. But the controversies surrounding Modi suggest that western powers may have to reconsider how they engage with India.

The documentary was screened in the UK in January and has since been blocked from being shared on social media in India, but has been seen by journalists who use VPNs to circumvent these restrictions. The BBC has declined to comment on the defamation suit filed against it by Justice on Trial, a group representing the victims of the 2002 riots. The high court has said it will hear the case on September 15.

Part 2

India is a major emerging power, and its prime minister is frequently courted by western countries that value him as an economic partner. But the BBC’s latest documentary series, India: The Modi Question, shines a spotlight on past atrocities and current discrimination against minority groups that could complicate those relationships in the future. The two-part series examines accusations that Modi played a role in anti-Muslim violence during his time as chief minister of Gujarat, killing hundreds in 2002. The government tried to block people from sharing the documentary online, but it failed to stop the spread of information about its claims.

The first part of the documentary aired on January 17, and the second will be broadcast Tuesday. The film focuses on a secret report obtained by the BBC from the British Foreign Office that accuses Modi of playing a “direct role” in the violence. The report also alleges that the state government gave Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the organisation behind the riots, a free hand to destroy Muslim property and that Modi was directly responsible for a climate of impunity that enabled the attacks.

Some of the allegations in the documentary may be familiar to those who follow Indian news, but what the documentary does is bring all the evidence together into a single narrative. It is one of the first times that these allegations have been examined by an international media outlet, and it will likely be a watershed moment for many who previously had little interest in Modi’s background.

In the UK, where the documentary aired on BBC Two, it has been well-received. The Guardian describes it as “a sobering look at India’s treatment of Muslims,” and many people have taken to Twitter to discuss its contents. But it has also met with criticism from pro-government outlets and influential rightwing social media users.

The Modi government has been thin-skinned about criticism in the past, but it appears particularly sensitive to this documentary. The government has tried to block people from sharing it online and used emergency laws to try to force YouTube and Twitter to remove the clips. But the BBC has resisted this pressure, and some of its staff have even been threatened with legal action for speaking out.


The bbc documentary on modi has stirred up a storm in India. It has highlighted alleged atrocities and discrimination against minorities by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government. The actions against the BBC have put a spotlight on dwindling press freedoms in one of the world’s largest democracies. Bobby Ghosh joins Amna Nawaz to discuss the controversy.

The two-part documentary, titled “India: The Modi Question,” criticizes the role of Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots. During that time, the state’s Hindu majority fought Muslims in a wave of violence that began after a train bombing killed dozens of Hindu pilgrims and was blamed on Muslim terrorism. More than 1,000 people were killed in the ensuing chaos. Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, was widely held responsible for not doing enough to stop the violence.

It also cites a secret UK government report that found the riots had the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing. A senior British diplomat was quoted in the documentary saying that Modi and his right-wing party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), were using the riots to remove Muslim political rivals and clear the way for their own power grab.

The Modi government responded quickly to the documentary, describing it as an attempt to denigrate the country’s image abroad. At a weekly news conference, a foreign ministry spokesperson said that the “bias and lack of objectivity, and frankly continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible.” The BBC says it is cooperating with authorities investigating the raids.

Despite the government’s efforts to silence criticism, many Indians have taken to social media to discuss the film and organize local screenings. A group of left-wing student activists in Kerala planned to hold a public screening at the university. The police threatened to shut the event down, but students refused and held the screening anyway.

Several lawmakers have also condemned the documentary. Conservative MP Bob Blackman called it a “hatchet job”, while Rami Ranger, a Tory peer, wrote to the head of the BBC demanding to know if any of its Pakistani-origin staff were involved. These reactions highlight the delicate situation in which the UK and European governments find themselves. They want to cultivate close trade and military ties with India, but the documentary shines a light on past atrocities and current discrimination that these countries have turned a blind eye to.