New Delhi: The Opposition Parties have come heavily on the Centre’s decision to block access to BBC’s controversial documentary on Gujarat 2002 riots and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh uploaded a video clip of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee talking about ‘Rajdharm’ in presence of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.

Tweeting the video, Ramesh questioned Centre’s direction: “PM and his drumbeaters assert that the new BBC documentary on him is slanderous. Censorship has been imposed. Then why did PM Vajpayee want his exit in 2002, only to be pressurised not to insist by the threat of resignation by Advani? Why did Vajpayee remind him of his Rajdharma?” 

TMC MP Mahua Moitra, who has been a sharp critic of the incumbent Union government, also responded to the decision. 

She wrote, “Govt on war footing to ensure noone in India can watch a mere @BBC show. Shame that the emperor & courtiers of the world’s largest democracy are so insecure.” 

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi quoted German poet-writer Charles Bukowski and said, “Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is rea.” 

She also raised doubt over the impact of the ban saying, “In the age of VPN, how impactful are these bans under emergency clauses cited by the I&B Ministry to ban a BBC documentary.” 

“The more they pour scorn on it, write protest letters, the more people would be curious to watch,” Chaturvedi added. 

India Blocks Access To BBC Documentary 

The Indian government on Saturday issued directions for blocking multiple videos and tweets sharing links to the BBC’s controversial documentary “India: The Modi Question”. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued orders for blocking multiple YouTube videos of the first episode of the BBC Documentary on PM Modi and the 2002 Gujarat Riots. It also asked Twitter to block over 50 tweets with links to these YouTube videos.  

Sharing the information on Twitter, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Kanchan Gupta on Saturday said that the documentary is ‘hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage’.   

He mentioned that multiple ministries including the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs examined the ‘malicious documentary’.   

 “They found that it is casting aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sowing divisions among various Indian communities, and making unsubstantiated allegations,” Gupta mentioned.  

 Earlier, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi termed the documentary as ‘biased’ and ‘with a colonial mindset’.  

“The bias, the lack of objectivity, and frankly a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible. If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it and frankly we do not wish to dignify such efforts,” he said during a media briefing.  

ALSO READ | Centre Blocks Access To BBC’s Controversial Documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ On Social Media

 BBC’s Response To India’s Criticism 

Responding to India’s sharp criticism, the BBC in an official statement said that the programme was “rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards”.  

 “A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we have featured a range of opinions, including responses from people in the BJP [Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party],” it stated. The statement added that it had offered the Indian government an opportunity to reply to the matters raised in the series, but the government declined. 

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