The central-ruling BJP regime has invoked emergency laws to curb the BBC documentary that delves into an inquiry done by the UK's foreign office into the 2002 Gujarat riots that happened in the direct watch of Narendra Modi, who was the then Chief Minister of the state. Though the government has played out a clampdown against the documentary, the recent events display that it has seemingly promoted it and sparked more attention.
When BBC released its documentary, 'India: The Modi Question', last Tuesday, it triggered a nationwide scrutiny as it held Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly responsible for the riots. The documentary comes in two series and when the first part was released, it sparked a political turmoil across the country and when the links to the documentary were shared on social media, the Modi regime invoked emergency laws and blocked the links to the documentary, only to witness a backfire.
Though YouTube took down the documentary and the digital strike from the centre had removed the links before the documentary was widely watched, the opposition leaders are sharing the links by slamming the BJP's censorship. Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Tuesday shared several links to the documentary and said that she wasn't elected to accept censorship. Taking to Twitter, Moitra wrote, "Sorry, haven't been elected to represent the world's largest democracy to accept censorship. Here's the link. Watch it while you can."
She also shared links to the documentary on video sharing platform Vimeo and the messenger app Telegram. On Monday, Moitra tweeted, "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." Sharing the Vimeo's link to the documentary, Moitra wrote, "Here's a new link that works. Good, bad, or ugly - we decide. Govt doesn't tell us what to watch."
While her tweets have been going viral, there's an event where the documentary reached a much-larger screen. On Monday, the BBC documentary was screened at Hyderabad Central University and according to reports, the screening was organized by the Student Islamic Organisation and Muslim Student Federation inside the campus and the screening was attended by over fifty students. The university authorities have said that the student group didn't seek permission before screening the documentary.
The screening was reported to the university management by the RSS's student wing ABVP. Speaking to ANI about the screening, ABVP student leader Mahesh said, "We have escalated the matter to University Authorities and demanded action on the organisers. The group has organised screening without permission inside the campus premises." Besides Hyderabad Central University, the poster about the screening of the documentary was put up at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi on Monday.
On the other hand, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of CPM, said it will screen the documentary in Kerala. Along with the DYFI, the Youth Congress in Kerala has also announced that it will screen the documentary on Republic Day. These back-to-back events of pouring a setback to the Modi regime have come after the government has directed Twitter and YouTube to remove links to the documentary by exercising its emergency powers under Rule 16 of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the rule that is being challenged by news organisations and activists as it enables censorship.