The BBC documentary features the findings of a British investigation into the deadly riots of 2002 and reveals Prime Minister Modi’s failure to stop the violence.
India’s foreign ministry on Thursday called a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioning his leadership during the deadly Gujarat riots of 2002 as “propaganda”.
Modi was the country’s prime minister when it was taken over by Gujarat. social riots It caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people – most of them Muslims. The violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people.
The British investigative report featured in the documentary refers to the events as a “systematic campaign of violence” with “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing” and placing the blame directly on Modi.
For me, the revealing and damaging part of the BBC documentary is the first record of Jack Straw, the former UK foreign secretary, about the presence of his staff in Gujarat during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom. pic.twitter.com/i8asr4wA5h
— Rana Eyyub (@RanaAyyub) 19 January 2023
The UK government’s report was never made public until it was disclosed in the documentary.
According to the documentary released on Tuesday, the investigative team claimed that Modi had prevented police from taking action to stop the violence against Muslims, and that Modi specifically ordered the authorities not to interfere, according to sources.
Modi denied the charges and was acquitted in 2012 after an investigation by India’s highest court. Another petition questioning his acquittal was also rejected last year.
Describing the BBC documentary as a “piece of propaganda” to force a “disreputable narrative”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said a “prejudice”, a “lack of objectivity” and a “permanent colonial mentality” were “clearly visible”.
“This leaves us wondering about the purpose of the exercise and the agenda behind it, and we don’t want to honor such efforts,” he said at a press conference.
Contacted for comment, the BBC said the documentary was “rigorously researched” and contained a “wide range” of voices and opinions, including responses from people in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“We offered the Indian government the right to respond to issues raised in the show – it refused to respond,” a BBC spokesperson said.
The documentary also features a former senior British diplomat saying the violence was planned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization. Modi joined RSS at a young age in his hometown of Gujarat.
The investigation team said the VHP “could not have done this much damage without the atmosphere of impunity created by the state government”.
Jack Straw, who was Britain’s foreign minister at the time of the violence, was also interviewed in the documentary and said the allegations against Modi were discredited.
“These were very serious allegations – that PM Modi played a very active role in pulling back the police and tacitly encouraging Hindu extremists,” Straw said. “This was a particularly lousy example.”
“What we did was start an investigation and have a team go to Gujarat and find out what happened. And they did a very comprehensive report,” he added.
The report also claimed that there were widespread rapes of Muslim women during the 2002 violence. He added that the aim of the riots was to “cleanse Muslims from Hindu areas” – something critics say today has become state policy under the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
Under Modi, whose party has been in power since 2014, Muslims in India repeatedly subjected to violence and lynching and blatant discrimination, often politically motivated.
Hindu supremacist groups and supporters of the ruling BJP have also intensified calls to transform the country into a privileged Hindu state.
Systematic, state-sponsored discrimination against Muslims includes laws banning the headscarf, the head scarf worn by many Muslim women, in certain parts of the country. Among other controversial laws passed over the years Citizenship Change Actgranting citizenship to non-Muslim minorities in neighboring countries.
The BBC documentary showed that “reconciliation will be impossible” as long as Modi remains in power, according to the British investigative report.
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