Anil K Antony, son of senior Congress leader and former Defense Minister AK Antony has said that Indians supporting a BBC documentary on Narendra Modi and 2002 Gujarat riots will set a dangerous precedent. Anil. who is in in charge of Congress' digital communications in Kerala tweeted on January 24, " Despite large differences with BJP, I think those in India placing views of BBC, a British state sponsored channel with a long history of Indian prejudices,and of Jack Straw, the brain behind the Iraq war, over Indian institutions is setting a dangerous precedence,will undermine our sovereignty. The union government had recently used its powers to block links using Rule 16 of the Digital Media Rules, 2021, to ban links of the BBC documentary titled "India: The Modi Question".
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee's (KPCC) minority cell also said that the documentary would be screened in all district headquarters of the state on Republic Day. BJP termed such move as "treasonous" and asked the Kerala CM to urgently intervene and nip such endeavours in the bud. BJP state president K Surendran filed a complaint with the Chief Minister demanding that permission be not given to screen the documentary in the state. In his complaint, Surendran said that the screening of the documentary would be tantamount to condoning foreign moves to endanger the country's unity and integrity. He also said that the reliving the unfortunate events of two decades ago was aimed at "fueling religious tensions".
Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan also urged the CM not to allow screening of the documentary and sought his urgent intervention in the matter. In a Facebook post, Muraleedharan said that re-introduction of allegations rejected by the Supreme Court questions the credibility of the highest court of the country.
SFI, in its Facebook post, said the documentary would be screened in various college campuses in the state. State Youth Congress president Shafi Parambil, in a FB post, said that reminders of betrayal and genocide cannot be hidden by power and the BBC documentary will be screened in Kerala. KPCC minority cell chairman, advocate Shihabuddin Karyat, in a statement said that the documentary would be screened in district headquarters of the party on Republic Day in view of the undeclared ban on it in the country.
The two-part BBC documentary which investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of that state, has been trashed by the Ministry of External Affairs as a "propaganda piece" that lacked objectivity and reflected a "colonial mindset". The directions on blocking access were understood to have been issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday using the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021.
The government's move has received sharp criticism from opposition parties like the Congress and the TMC for imposing "censorship". At the same time a group of 302 former judges, ex-bureaucrats and veterans slammed the BBC documentary as a "motivated charge sheet against our leader, a fellow Indian and a patriot" and a reflection of "dyed-in-the-wool negativity and unrelenting prejudice".