Sunday, June 23, 2024

BBC blocked: Why the Modi govt doesn’t mind the “fascist” charge

India has addressed a few larger issues in blocking the BBC’s documentary “India: The Modi Question” which must make its pro and anti forces see the BJP government in a new light. 

It’s unlikely that the Modi’s-is-a-fascist-government-charade won’t hit the ceiling now. Yet India’s popular government has bitten the bullet for it sees its primary duty as upholding law and order for its nearly a billion and a half citizens. 

Could just a documentary endanger India’s democracy? 

India’s information adviser Kanchan Gupta has shared the bigger picture with citizens thus

“The government has come to the conclusion on the basis of multi-ministerial inputs that this content needs to be blocked..there was reason to believe this content would give rise to certain law and order issues…(this two-part series) was devious in the sense that the purpose was to create some turmoil, instigate some violence before January 26 and during India’s presidentship of G20…We have seen how misconceptions, misperceptions and purposefully misunderstanding something like the CAA–which had nothing to do with Indian Muslims–could cause huge turbulence in this country.”

Gupta has also informed that the Modi government was aware of such a documentary in the works for about a month and a half. 

So its reasonable to assume that the “multi-ministerial inputs” ought to have been based on intelligence reports on devious attempts to instigate violence by as early as this January 26 itself. 

What must have been the contents of this documentary to give rise to such fears we don’t know. But a few who have seen it have some interesting inputs to offer: 

  1. The documentary begins with a footage of a Muslim family in trauma, unconnected with the 2002 Gujarat Riots. It then makes a fleeting reference to Godhra where 59 Hindus, including women and children, were charred to death, a harbinger of bigger violence which engulfed the State thereafter. 

Now Godhra tragedy is mentioned as the bogey “caught fire” which led to the tragedy. The truth is, bogey didn’t “catch fire” because of some malfunctioning in the Sabarmati Express. It was pre-planned to burn the bogey for which 35 people have been convicted, 10 of them with death penalty (later turned to life sentence, by the High Court). Further, as many as 21 convicts were sentenced to life sentence. These were no accidental deaths but planned murder. 

(b) The BBC documentary all through has pinned the blame of Gujarat Riots on Narendra Modi. It has taken only a fleeting note of the Supreme Court judgement which has absolved Modi of all such charges. To them it was a judgement which is “contested.”

Now you can’t call it a “contested” judgement when thousands of witnesses have been examined in dozens of courts for over 20 years after hundreds of hours of interrogation. And if the BBC does feel it’s a “contested” judgement, it ought to have put forward its reasons for the same. To be dismissive of India’s highest law body which spent years on the case without offering reasons is nothing but agenda in the guise of journalism. Further, the SIT which absolved Modi of any guilt was appointed not by the BJP but the Congress government in the Centre. 

( c ) The documentary has buttressed its agenda by quoting Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary in 2002, who apparently set up a secret investigation into Gujarat riots which termed “Narendra Modi directly responsible” for the 2002 killings. 

Kanwal Sibal, India’s former foreign secretary, has found this claim of “secret” UK government report on Gujarat Riots absurd. “How can a foreign government conduct secret enquiry in another country? Did they send people undercover? How such an on the spot enquiry took place without the government of India knowing?”

The BBC has gone to a discredited Jack Straw, the man who once raised the false bogey of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq which led to US invasion and the destruction of a country, a civilization, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, raped or uprooted. It was Jack Straw only who was implicated in the Chilcot Report

The BBC documentary apparently has no time to dwell on the the likes of Teesta Setalvad who was found by the Supreme Court to have fabricated the evidence on Gujarat Riots. Or on the role of Ahmed Patel and Ford Foundation in the devious propaganda against the then chief minister Modi. 

BBC-A Sordid History

The British Broadcasting Corporation has a sordid past. It was British Imperial Service, embedded to the British government, till India got independence in 1947 after which it was renamed as the BBC. 

In 1972, its two-part series on India was so bad that the Indian government cancelled the BBC licence and expelled it from the country. 

In 1975, 40 Congress MPs had petitioned that BBC should be banned in India. 

The BBC once ran a report that the government of India has sent out tanks on the streets in Jammu and Kashmir but the footage it showed was from Chechnya. 

In 1991, the BBC didn’t give the “Man of the Year” award to Lal Krishna Advani despite the BJP leader having got double the number of votes than his closest rival. Even The Times in England criticized the BBC for the same. 

The Agenda of “Dark Stories”

The BBC has raked up a 20-year-old incident, now well settled by India’s judiciary, with an eye to polarize the Indian voters in the next few months, say critics. There are nine state assembly elections this year and the Lok Sabha Polls are due in 2024. With Modi firmly ensconced for yet another term at the Centre, the communal disharmony could be the surest way to throw the BJP, and India, off the rails.

We have confessions by BBC journalists, as well as Washington Post, that their brief is to splash “dark stories” from India. Its still okay if you are a media outlet like AFP, Reuters, AP etc but not when you are funded by the government which is the case with BBC. It then lends credibility to the charge that it’s a pawn in the age-old colonial game of divide and rule and cause communal disharmony.  

In the wake of this BBC documentary, some very distinguished judges, bureaucrats and decorated veterans, 302 in numbers, have come forward to register their protests against the anti-India hate propaganda. 

Gupta has mentioned the documentary had the potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign countries as also public order within the country. 

It’s a clear give-away that the Muslim-Hindu disharmony would be stoked up in this country in coming months. 

The Centre has signalled its intent it won’t let it happen, even if the charge of being a “fascist” government is drummed up. 

BBC documentary or no BBC documentary, the communal divide would be the go-to tool of Modi and India haters in near future. 

It’s as good as given–let all Indians fight it.

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