WASHINGTON D.C. – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) has condemned the Indian Government’s decision to ban the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question.” The documentary throws light on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the mass killing of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
“The documentary ban is only the latest turn in India’s descent into authoritarianism during Modi’s nine-year-long rule which has seen unprecedented attacks on free speech and press freedom,” the IAMC said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The IAMC is a US-based nonprofit organisation dedicated to social justice, peace and pluralism.
“The Modi Administration has arrested and jailed journalists on unfounded terror charges. It has raided news organisations that are critical of its failures. It has censored critics of its handling of COVID-19. And now, it has banned a BBC documentary from airing not just in India but across the world,” IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed, said adding, “A country that censors criticism is no longer a democracy.”
Ahmed called upon the Indian Government to immediately revoke the ban and allow the documentary to be freely distributed in India. He also slammed Twitter and YouTube for removing references and links to the documentary under pressure from India.
“It is appalling that platforms touting their commitment to free speech should cave under pressure from an authoritarian government whose leaders have encouraged and incited mass violence against minorities,” Ahmed said. “It is especially shameful considering Twitter’s prior resistance to India’s censorship. IAMC calls on both YouTube and Twitter to immediately restore full access to “India: The Modi Question,” Ahmed’s statement said.
Ahmed also condemned Twitter for blocking IAMC’s tweet in India that shared the link to the BBC documentary.
“India: The Modi Question” shares the results of a British government investigation into the anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002. The documentary blames Modi, who was then Gujarat’s chief minister, as “directly responsible” for the “climate of impunity” during the riots.
The documentary quotes politicians and senior police officers alleging that Modi ordered the police to permit violence.
The BBC documentary also includes a video of Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal who was convicted for orchestrating the killing of 97 Muslim men, women and children. In this video shot secretly, Bajrangi, who has been out on bail for nearly four years despite his conviction for mass murder, also claimed that Modi changed the judges presiding over his case three times to ensure his release.
Ahmed also criticised the Indian Supreme Court for letting Modi off the hook last year, ignoring and suppressing decades’ worth of inculpatory evidence compiled by activist Teesta Setalvad and others. The Supreme Court, he said, failed in its duty to prosecute Modi for the violence in Gujarat.