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India says BBC film on Modi's role in Gujarat riots 'propaganda' | Narendra Modi news

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The BBC documentary presents the findings of a British investigation into the deadly riots of 2002, which reveals that Prime Minister Modi failed to stop the violence.

India’s foreign ministry on Thursday dismissed a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi that questioned his leadership during the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots as “propaganda”.

Modi was chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when it was gripped by communal riots that left more than 1,000 dead – most of them Muslims. The violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people.

The British inquiry report featured in the documentary refers to the events as a “systematic campaign of violence” that has “all the earmarks of ethnic cleansing” and has attributed direct responsibility to Modi.

The UK government report was never released until it was revealed in the documentary.

According to the documentary, released on Tuesday, the investigation team alleged that Modi prevented the police from taking action to stop violence against Muslims and cited sources as saying that Modi specifically ordered the authorities not to intervene.

Modi denied the allegations and was exonerated in 2012 following an inquiry by India’s highest court. Another petition questioning his dismissal was rejected last year.

Calling the BBC documentary a “propaganda piece” designed to promote a “discredited narrative”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said a “prejudice”, “lack of objectivity” and “colonial mentality continuous” is “clearly visible” in it.

“It makes us think about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it, and we don’t want to dignify such efforts,” he said at a news conference.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to his supporters as he arrives to vote during the second and final phase of Gujarat state assembly elections in Ahmedabad, India, on December 5, 2022. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to his supporters in the state of Gujarat [File: Amit Dave/Reuters]

The BBC, contacted for comment, said the documentary was “rigorously researched” and involved a “wide range” of voices and opinions, including responses from people in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We have offered the Indian government the right to respond to the issues raised in the series – it has refused to respond,” a BBC spokesperson said.

continuous discrimination

The documentary also features a former high-ranking British diplomat saying the violence was masterminded by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation. Modi joined the RSS at a young age in his home state of Gujarat.

The VHP “could not have caused so much damage without the climate of impunity created by the state government,” the investigation team said.

Jack Straw, who was the UK foreign secretary at the time of the violence, was also interviewed in the documentary and said the allegations against Modi had damaged his reputation.

“These were very serious assertions – that Chief Minister Modi played a very active role in pulling out the police and tacitly encouraging Hindu extremists,” Straw said. “That was a particularly egregious example.”

“What we did was open an investigation and send a team to Gujarat to find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very thorough report,” she added.

The report also claimed that there was widespread rape of Muslim women during the 2002 violence. It added that the aim of the riots was to “purge Muslims out of Hindu areas” – something critics today say has become state policy under the Hindu nationalist agenda. from the BJP.

Under Modi, whose party has been in power since 2014, Muslims in India have repeatedly been subjected to violence, lynchings and blatant discrimination, often politically motivated.

Hindu supremacist groups and supporters of the BJP ruler have also stepped up calls to turn the country into an exclusive Hindu state.

Systematic, state-sponsored discrimination against Muslims includes laws banning the hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women, in certain parts of the country. Other controversial laws passed over the years include the Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants nationality to non-Muslim minorities from neighboring countries.

In its documentary, the BBC showed that, according to the British inquiry report, “reconciliation will be impossible” as long as Modi remains in power.