India has blocked the broadcast of a BBC documentary that questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, claiming that even sharing clips on social media is prohibited.
On Saturday, Kanchan Gupta, a government adviser, tweeted that those directions to block the clips from being shared had been issued using emergency powers available to the government under the country’s information technology rules.
While the BBC has not aired the documentary in India, it has been uploaded to some YouTube channels, according to Gupta.
According to Gupta, the government has ordered Twitter to block over 50 tweets that link to the documentary’s video, and YouTube to block any uploads of the video. He went on to say that both YouTube and Twitter had followed the rules.
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued advisory to TV channels against broadcasting disturbing/gory visuals which grossly compromise journalistic norms while reporting accidents, deaths, and violence including violence against women, children, elderly.
— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) January 9, 2023
Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, a western state, at the time of communal riots that killed over 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, according to government estimates. The rioting began after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people.
Human rights activists estimate that at least twice as many people died in the rioting. Modi denied allegations that he failed to put an end to the rioting.
A special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court to look into Modi’s and others’ roles in the violence concluded in a 541-page report in 2012 that there was insufficient evidence to charge the then-chief minister.
Modi was later appointed as the leader of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which he led to power in general elections in 2014 and 2019.
A spokesperson for India’s foreign ministry called the BBC documentary a “propaganda piece” designed to promote a “discredited narrative” last week.