World’s top journalist body urges India to undo ban on BBC film critical of Modi
One of the world’s most prestigious journalistic bodies, the National Press Club, has urged India to lift the ban on a BBC film that exposes Hindu supremacist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the bloody anti-Muslim massacre in Gujurat in 2002.
“India should be proud that it is the largest democracy in the world, but it cannot hold on to that identity if it continues to erode press freedom, persecute journalists, and suppress news that holds a mirror up to its shortcomings,” the organization said in a statement. “Since Modi came to power, we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his government — time and time again — has suppressed the right of its citizens to a free and independent news media.”
After the BBC aired a two-part documentary entitled “India: The Modi Question” on January 17, the Indian government used its emergency powers to ban the film from being aired in the country. Modi’s government also forced Twitter and YouTube to block the documentary in India using draconian laws, which the National Press Club has previously criticized.
“We strongly urge the government of India to rescind its ban on the BBC documentary and to allow the citizens of India to decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with its findings,” the statement continued. “We also demand in the strongest terms the government stop its persecution of journalists and suppression of press freedom in India.”
The documentary states that a team sent by the UK government to inquire into the 2002 massacre, in which nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed, found that Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister, had prevented the police from stopping violence targeted at Muslims and was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence.
Modi government denounces Amnesty, Human Rights Watch reports on 2020 Muslim pogrom
The Modi government has filed an affidavit before the Delhi High Court in an attempt to discredit the fact-finding reports of renowned human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi in 2020.
The affidavit made blatantly false claims, referring to the groups as “vested interests” constituting “extra-judicial commissions” to create narratives that may lead to “social and political unrest.”
The affidavit was filed in support of a plea that sought to quash reports of the anti-Muslim violence prepared by the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Citizens, Lawyers Initiative, and an inquiry panel set up by Constitutional Conduct Group that includes nearly 100 former civil servants and most renowned human rights defenders in India.
The fact-finding reports called the violence an “anti-Muslim pogrom” and exposed the police as complicit in the attack against Muslims.
The Delhi Police allowed extremist Hindu mobs to roam the streets freely to target the Muslim community during the violence and even joined them in attacking local Muslim residents of the region, a report by the DMC revealed.
In August 2020, Amnesty International said in a report that it found that the police sometimes did not intervene despite being present at the scene of the violence. Police officers intervened only to arrest anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors, and refused to register complaints of the victims, the NGO said.
Hindu extremist leader threatens to “crush” Christians, slaps Christian woman
As violence against Christians rises across India, a Hindu extremist leader harassed and physically assaulted a group of Christians in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Uttarakhand state over false allegations of forced religious conversion.
Radha Semwal Dhoni is a leader of the notorious Hindu supremacist group, Hindu Yuva Vahini. In a video of the incident that she shared on Facebook, she can be seen slapping a Christian woman.
“I will crush you like potatoes,” she told the Christian group in the video.
Under the state’s invasive anti-conversion law, Christian leaders say any Christian charity activity can be labeled by Hindu supremacists as “coercion carried out for conversion.”
According to data collected by United Christian Forum, a Christian rights group, after the law was enacted the number of violent incidents against Christians rose by nearly 75 percent.