Indian police detain students for screening ‘The Modi Question’
NEW DELHI: On Friday, Indian police stopped a group of students in New Delhi from watching a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in deadly sectarian riots in 2002. The students were then detained by the police.
Students at Delhi University joined students at other campuses around the country in putting on a broadcast. They did this even though the government tried to stop it from spreading by blocking it on social media.
After student groups that backed Modi’s ruling party complained about the screening, police swarmed the university, seized laptops, and made it illegal for more than four people to get together.
Sagar Singh Kalsi, a police officer, told the Indian news station NDTV that 24 students were being held.
In the two-part BBC show, it is said that Modi told police to look the other way during deadly riots when he was the leader of Gujarat state.
After a fire on a train killed 59 Hindu pilgrims, the fighting started. Thirty-one Muslims were found guilty of murder and planning a crime because of what happened.
In the chaos that followed, at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.
A report from the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs that was once secret said that the violence was “politically motivated” and that the goal was “to get rid of Muslims from Hindu areas.”
The report also says that the riots would not have happened if Modi’s government had not created a “climate of impunity.”
India has called the series “hostile” propaganda and told big social media sites like Twitter and YouTube that they can’t share or stream it because of controversial laws about information technology.
This week, officials at New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University also banned a screening attempt and said that “strict disciplinary action” would be taken if the ban was disobeyed.
But groups of defiant students at that college and at many others across India have come together to watch the documentary on laptops and phones.
Modi was in charge of Gujarat from 2001 until he became prime minister in 2014. For a short time, the United States banned him from travelling because of the violence.
The Indian Supreme Court sent an investigation team to look into Modi and others’ roles in the violence. In 2012, the team said it did not find enough evidence to bring charges against Modi.