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‘What’s There to Hide?’: Modi Govt Under Fire for Blocking BBC Documentary on Gujarat Pogrom

“The government does not want difficult questions to be asked. If the BBC headquarters were in Delhi, the ED (Enforcement Directorate) might have been on their doorstep by now,” says Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh 

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The Central government’s decision to block the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom on social media has come under fire from political leaders and activists. They are posing a pertinent question: “What the government wants to hide?”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah generally stifle those who question them and show them the truth. It is done in different ways. The decision to block the documentary is such a move by the government. You cannot obliterate truth like this…everyone has seen this truth. What is there to hide?”, asked prominent rights activist Kavita Krishnan while talking to Clarion India.

On Saturday, the government decided to block the documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” on Twitter and YouTube by invoking emergency power given to it under the IT rules.

“Videos sharing @BBCWorld hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage, disguised as ‘documentary’, on @YouTube and tweets sharing links to the BBC documentary have been blocked under India’s sovereign laws and rules,” tweeted Kanchan Gupta, senior advisor at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

Earlier, the External Affairs Ministry also slammed the documentary terming it a“propaganda piece”.

However, the move to block the documentary has come under fire from several quarters.

Taking a dig at the move, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh described it as “Block in India”.

“There is a scheme of the government of India called ‘Block in India’, like ‘Make in India’, ‘Startup India’. The government does not want difficult questions to be asked. If the BBC headquarters were in Delhi, the ED (Enforcement Directorate) might have been on their doorstep by now,” Vallabh told reporters.

Trinamool Congress leaders and Shiv Sena also criticized the move calling it “censorship”.

Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said Twitter had taken down his earlier post which had received “lakhs of views”. Today, he said another of his tweets has survived “for almost 3 days. WATCH”.

Another Trinamool MP, Mahua Moitra, said the government is “insecure”. “Shame that the emperor & courtiers of the world’s largest democracy are so insecure (sic),” she tweeted.

“Sorry, Haven’t been elected to represent the world’s largest democracy to accept censorship. Here’s the link. Watch it while you can,” read a second tweet.

“Get the point: What @BBC show proves or disproves is up to viewers to decide. But Govt of India’s raging censorship actions are unacceptable,” said Moitra in another tweet.

Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi said that in the age of VPN, these types of bans don’t make any impact.

“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,” she tweeted.

Noted Supreme Court lawyer and activist, Prashant Bhushan, whose tweet containing the video links of the documentary was taken down, also slammed the government alleging that the government was hiding many things on the issue.

On the other hand, Kavita Krishnan told Clarion India that “supporters of the prime minister accept that it was him who has done it in Gujarat. They appreciate him for doing this. Then, why does the government want to hide anything?”

“They want to accept it among the people of India. They want people in India to follow him in their hatred of Muslims. But they also want foreign countries to appreciate it. This is the issue,” she said.

She rejected the government’s claims that the documentary is an attack on India’s sovereignty and the Supreme Court.

“What is the issue that we can’t speak on this issue?” she asked.

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