India blocks BBC documentary on Modi from airing in India

India blocks BBC documentary on Modi from airing in India

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MUMBAI, Jan 22 (Reuters) – India has blocked the broadcast of a BBC documentary questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying even sharing any clips via social media is prohibited.

The directions to block the sharing of the clips were issued using extraordinary powers granted to the government under the country’s IT rules, Kanchan Gupta, an adviser to the government, said on Twitter on Saturday.

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

The government has issued orders to Twitter to block more than 50 tweets linking to the documentary’s video, and YouTube has been instructed to block any uploads of the video, Gupta said. Both YouTube and Twitter have complied with the guidelines, he added.

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

Human rights activists estimate that the number of people killed in the riots is at least twice that.

Modi rejected accusations that he had failed to stop the riots. A special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court to probe the role of Modi and others in the violence said in a 541-page report in 2012 that it could find no evidence of prosecution of the then chief minister.

Modi was named the prime ministerial candidate of his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, in 2013 and led it to power in general elections in 2014 and then in 2019.

Last week, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry called the BBC documentary “propaganda material” designed to push a “discredited narrative”.

(This story has been corrected to clarify that Modi was never BJP president but was chosen as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in 2013, in the eighth paragraph.)

Reporting by Ira Dougal Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Frances Carey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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