BBC's Modi documentary vs The Kashmir Files: The screening scuffle between students at top varsity!

In the midst of growing outcry against the BJP regime's clampdown against the BBC's documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, University of Hyderabad had witnessed a screening scuffle between the students as when a group of students, who belong to the leftist outfits, screened the documentary, the students who are part of Hindutva outfits, have screened 'The Kashmir Files' in a counteroffensive measure. 

The two-part BBC's documentary, titled 'India: The Modi Question' on Modi has sparked a turmoil across the country for its bombshell revelation of the UK's Foreign Office's inquiry into the 2002 Gujarat riots that said that 'Narendra Modi is directly responsible' for the communal violence and delved into the controversial and divisive policies of Narendra Modi during his term as the Prime Minister. As the Indian government had termed the documentary as 'a propaganda piece', it has blocked the links of the documentary. 

However, its clampdown against the documentary attracted a wider attention and as the documentary had thrown weight behind the opposition's criticism that Modi is hugely divisive, the opposition groups have organized several events to screen the documentary. The trend of screening was rampant in various universities as several student groups' have gone an extra mile in taking the documentary to the masses.

From Hyderabad to Delhi, the top varsities have witnessed the screening of BBC's documentary and when such screening was held on Thursday - on the occasion of Republic Day, there were incidents where the students of rival groups have had a screening clash. On Thursday, the Students Federation of India (SFI), which is a left-wing student organization, had screened the BBC's documentary on Modi at the University of Hyderabad and Jadavpur University in Kolkata. 

According to reports, this is the second time that the screening was organized at the University of Hyderabad, also called the Hyderabad Central University (HCU). Earlier, the students group 'The Fraternity Movement' organized the screening of the BBC documentary in the varsity on January 21. While the university officials claimed that the screening didn't have a permission, the SFI had this time made a prior announcement that the screening of BBC documentary will be held on the Republic Day. 

On Thursday, the SFI said that more than 400 students have turned out for the screening at the Hyderabad Central University. Taking to Twitter, SFI wrote, "Glimpses from the succesful screening of the documentary 'India: The Modi Question' organized by SFI HCU on the Republic Day following the call of SFI CEC. More than 400 students turned out for the screening rejecting the false propaganda and the attempts of ABVP to create unrest and the administration to disrupt the screening of the documentary. SFI-HCU salutes the student community who have stood for freedom of expression and campus democracy." 

While the SFI had screened the documentary to the masses, the students who belong to ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad), the students' wing of BJP's parent body RSS, have countered the screening of the documentary by organizing the screening of 'The Kashmir Files' on the HCU campus on Thursday. The controversial 'The Kashmir Files' was a Bollywood film that narrates the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir after the killings of people from the community by terrorists backed by Pakistan. 

When the SFI priorly announced about the screening of the BBC documentary in HCU, the ABVP had protested against the administration of the varsity and alleged that the university personnel didn't allow them into the varsity with the equipment to screen The Kashmir Files. In a social media post, ABVP unit in HCU said, "The University Administration tried to stop the screening of the movie 'The Kashmir Files'. When ABVP Karyakartas were bringing the projector from the main gate, university security manhandled our Karyakartas." 

On the big screen: People watch the BBC's documentary on Modi on a screen installed at the Marine Drive junction in Kochi, Kerala on January 24, 2023


"There was another attempt by the administration to seize our projector. We protested at the main gate and we have arranged everything for the screening. We appeal to the student community to join us in large numbers at Ambedkar Chowk", ABVP added. Though the University's Registrar had urged the student groups against the screenings, the students went ahead with their plan and screened both the BBC documentary on Modi and The Kashmir Files. 

In Kolkata, the SFI at Jadavpur University had screened the BBC documentary on Thursday and the Kerala Congress Committee had held screenings of the documentary at the Shanghumugam beach in Thiruvananthapuram for the general public and the party has announced that it will organize several such screenings across the state. Speaking to PTI, Kerala Congress Committee's general secretary GS Babu said, "We received a positive response to the screening from the general public. Lots of people turned up to see it. In view of the positive response, we will show it across the state."