Sunday, June 16, 2024

Jaishankar on BBC series: Where is documentary on 1984 riots?

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar today said the timing of the BBC documentary is “not accidental” and called it “politics by another means” as he denounced the narrative in the foreign media about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

“There’s a phrase – war by other means. Think of it – this is politics by other means. Why is there suddenly a surge of reports, attention, and views? Will some of these things not happen again?” Dr Jaishankar said, responding to a question on the controversial BBC documentary on PM Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots, and the criticism of billionaire George Soros.

The controversial documentary, which comes a year before the 2024 national election, was taken down from social media platforms last month by the government, which used emergency powers under IT rules.

“You have to make a documentary? Many things happened in Delhi in 1984. Why didn’t we see a documentary? I mean, come on, you think the timing is accidental? Let me tell you one thing – I don’t know if election season has started in India and Delhi or not but for sure it has started in London and New York,” the minister said, referring to the deadly anti-Sikh riots in 1984 by Congress-led mobs after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

Jaishankar remarked that sometimes, politics of India didn’t  even originate in its borders, but came from outside.

The BBC’s two-part series titled “India: The Modi Question”, examines allegations that PM Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, didn’t do enough to stop the 2002 riots – allegations that were dismissed by the Supreme Court.

“I mean, do you doubt it? Look who the cheerleaders are. What is happening is, just like I told you — this drip, drip, drip — how do you shape a very extremist image of India, of the government, of the BJP, of the Prime Minister. I mean, this has been going on for a decade,” said Dr Jaishankar.

The motive behind such stories abroad was to further the anti-India agenda, he said.

“Let’s not have illusions about it…, there is an echo chamber, it will be picked outside and then they will say it is being said outside, it must be true. Then you will say it inside. There is a ding-dong going on, look this is a globalized world, people take that politics abroad,” the Foreign Minister said.

“We are not debating just a documentary or a speech that somebody gave in a European city or a newspaper edits somewhere — we are debating, actually politics, which is being conducted ostensibly as media — there is a phrase ‘war by other means’ this is politics by another means — I mean you will do a hatchet job, you want to do a hatchet job and say this is just another quest for truth which we decided after 20 years to put at this time.”

He challenged those behind the narrative to come to the political arena.

“This is politics at play by people who do not have the courage to come into the political field. They want to have that teflon cover saying that I am an NGO, media organisation etc. They are playing politics,” he said.

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