New BBC documentary on Gujrat Riots creates a stir, India calls it a ‘propaganda’


India’s foreign ministry dismissed a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi which questioned his leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots as a “propaganda piece designed to push a discredited narrative” that shouldn’t be “dignified” with a response.
Modi was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when it was gripped by communal riots.
Soon after the riots, the British foreign office had undertaken an investigation. The UK government report was never made public until it was revealed in the documentary.
The report of a United Kingdom inquiry showcased in the documentary refers to the events as a “systematic campaign of violence” which has “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”, and places direct responsibility on Modi.
According to the documentary, released this week, the inquiry team claimed that Modi had prevented the police from acting to stop violence targeted at Muslims and cited sources as saying Modi had specifically ordered authorities not to intervene, Al Jazeera reported.
Modi denied the accusations and was exonerated in 2012 following an inquiry by India’s top court. Another petition questioning his exoneration was dismissed last year.
The BBC’s two-part series called “India: The Modi Question” provoked sharp reactions.
Terming the BBC documentary a “propaganda piece” meant to push a “discredited narrative”, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said “bias”, “lack of objectivity” and “continuing colonial mindset” is “blatantly visible” in it.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, responding to a Pakistan-origin MP’s question in the British parliament on the series, said he “doesn’t agree with the characterization” of PM Modi.
“The UK government’s position on this has been clear and long-standing and hasn’t changed, of course, we don’t tolerate persecution where it appears anywhere but I am not sure I agree at all with the characterisation that the honourable gentleman has put forward to,” Sunak said.