India blocks BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Twitter and YouTube comply with government order over film questioning leader's role in 2002 Gujarat riots

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat state during 2002 riots in which more than 1,000 died. AFP
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India has blocked the airing of a BBC documentary that questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, including the sharing of clips on social media.

The government has invoked emergency powers available under information technology rules, adviser Kanchan Gupta said on Twitter on Saturday.

While the BBC has not aired the documentary in India, the video was available on some YouTube channels, Mr Gupta said.

The government has ordered Twitter to block over 50 tweets with links to the documentary and YouTube to block any uploads, Mr Gupta said. Both platforms have complied, he added.

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

Human rights activists say the death toll was at least double the official number.

Mr Modi denied accusations that he failed to stop the rioting.

A special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court said in a 541-page report in 2012 that it could find no evidence to prosecute Mr Modi.

He later became the head of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which he led to power in general elections in 2014, securing a second term in 2019.

Last week, a representative of India's foreign ministry called the BBC documentary a “propaganda piece” meant to push a “discredited narrative”.

Updated: January 22, 2023, 7:35 AM
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