Campuses on boil over screening of blocked BBC documentary against PM Modi | The Financial Express

Campuses on boil over screening of blocked BBC documentary against PM Modi

While the University of Hyderabad has ordered a probe after the documentary was screened on campus, a complaint has been filed with the Delhi Police over JNUSU’s plans to do the same.

BBC documentary on Gujarat riots
The ABVP has filed a complaint with the varsity authorities over the screening of the documentary at the University of Hyderabad campus on Saturday. (Photo source: (Twitter/@Fraternity_movt)

The row over the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ has now reached two university campuses in India after complaints were filed with the university administration and the Delhi Police over incidents related to the University of Hyderabad and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, respectively.

While the ABVP filed a complaint with the UoH administration after the documentary was screened at the shopping complex on the north campus last Saturday, Supreme Court advocate Vineet Jindal on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against the JNU students union against the scheduled screening of the controversial documentary at 9 PM in the campus today.

India: The Modi Question screened at Hyderabad University

The ABVP has filed a complaint with the varsity authorities over the screening of the documentary at the University of Hyderabad campus on Saturday. According to The Indian Express, a UoH spokesperson said the administration has sought a detailed report from the campus security department over the screening which was attended by 70-80 students.

“ABVP-HCU informed the university admin about this screening because the broadcasting of this documentary was banned recently by the government of India. Also, we demanded the authorities to enquire about and take appropriate action against this incident,” the ABVP said in a statement, adding that it has not approached the police regarding the matter yet. 

“The screening was held peacefully on Saturday. There was neither any objection to it nor any tension followed. The documentary is blocked on certain platforms but it is not banned. I am really worried for our campus as this incident is being blown out of proportion,” said UoH Students Union general secretary Gopi Swamy.

JNUSU to screen controversial documentary on Modi today 

Meanwhile, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union has also scheduled a screening of the documentary near the JNUSU office inside the campus at 9 PM on Tuesday. Taking note of the scheduled screening, 

An advisory issued by the university on Monday said that no prior permission has been sought from the JNU administration for the screening of the documentary and warned those involved to cancel the proposed programme or face action.

“This is to emphasize that such an unauthorised activity may distrurb peace and harmony of the university campus. The concerned students/individuals are firmly advised to cancel the proposed programme immediately failing which strict disciplinary action may be initiated as per the university rules,” the advisory issued by the Registrar added.

Vineet Jindal, a Supreme Court advocate, has also shot off a complaint to the Vasant Kunj SHO against the JNUSU’s proposed programme. In his complaint, Jindal has cited the government’s measures to block the documentary on YouTube as well as directions to Twitter to block tweets linking videos on other platforms.

“It has been examined by multiple ministries, including MEA, MHA and MIB, that BBC’s documentary is malicious and found it casting aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sowing divisions among various Indian communities, and making unsubstantiated allegations,” the complaint filed by Jindal read.

The JNUSU, meanwhile, plans to go ahead with the screening, claiming that the documentary has not been ‘banned’ by the Government of India yet.

Centre blocks BBC documentary in India

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued directions to block the first of the two-part BBC series. It has also directed Twitter to take down tweets with links to the video. The MEA, responding to a question on the documentary last week, termed it as a “propaganda piece” designed to push a “discredited narrative”.

“The bias, lack of objectivity, and continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday. “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. Frankly, we don’t wish to dignify such efforts,” he added.

The BBC website describes ‘India: The Modi Question’ as: “A look at the tensions between Indian PM Narendra Modi and India’s Muslim minority, investigating claims about his role in 2002 riots that left over a thousand dead.”

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First published on: 24-01-2023 at 14:46 IST