British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s two-part documentary, India: The Modi Question has been released. The Government of India has banned the first part, so the second has also been removed from major social media platforms. The first part largely focused on the Gujarat riots 2002. This made many question why BBC needed to show a two-decade-old issue now? Even concerned citizens, who are worried about the wide-spread Islamophobia and the hate-filled environment in India seek answers to it. The second part of the documentary, came with all the answers, as it highlights the Narendra Modi government’s work done in the last eight years, or anti-Muslim acts.
It starts with mob lynching cases, Kashmir (abrogation of Article 370), reports on citizenship issue which led CAA-NRC protests in the country and also mentions about hate speech being made against Muslims in the country. It shows Assam was the lab for Citizenship Act and Jharkhand as the epicenter of mob lynching cases in India.
Second part begins with the Alimuddin Ansari case, he was lynched in Ramgarh in 2017. All the killers in this case are out on bail. Ansari’s was the first lynching case in India in which conviction took place. But, Jharkhand High Court granted bail to the accused and later Jayant Sinha, BJP’s Hazaribagh MP and then a minister in Modi cabinet had garlanded the murderers when they came out from the jail. It makes one wonder whether it was the impact of Ansari case that helped the killers get bail even after conviction in another lynching (Latehar case) where two people, including a 12-year-old boy who was beaten and then hanged to death – the first one in Jharkhand. Between 2016 to 2019, over 26 lynching cases took place in the state, and Hemant Soren-led JMM government came to power with the promise to make a law against lynching. Hemant fulfilled the promise but the bill was returned by the center appointed Governor.
The BBC team talks to Ansari’s wife, Mariyam Khatoon, and victims of citizenship issues as well as the protestors.
But, even for an organization like BBC, which made two episodes of almost an hour each, missed ‘two’ important issues that the Muslims faced or are still facing during the Modi regime. Or it can be said that since BJP came to power with a full majority in India, the party and its supporters remain involved in so many types of anti-Muslim activities that the two-hour-long BBC documentary could not cover it all.
First, when the lockdown was imposed to break the chain of Covid-19 pandemic, the Tableegi-Jamaat was blamed as the spreader of the deadly virus, within a few days of imposition of the shutdown. Thousands of jamaat people were arrested, detained and humiliated. The markaz at Nizamuddin, Delhi was shut down. Later the media ran a campaign against Jamaat and tried to malign them in every possible way. When such things were happening, no ruling party BJP leader including Prime Minister Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah or anyone else condemned the act. BBC too missed this important issue in the two part series of India: The Modi Question.
Another important issue, the call for the economic boycott of Muslims, which is an ongoing project, has not been mentioned. From time to time, the boycott calls took place but it intensified after Covid-19 lockdown. After every call, which takes place anywhere in India (especially in Hindi heartlands) Muslim hawkers (venders) get beaten, their identity is cross checked and are barred in several areas or localities. However, it could not find a mention in the docu-series.
BBC could have easily found both, the Jamaat victims and Muslim hawkers who could narrate their plight. They could have also questioned former Rajya Sabha Member and BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta about these issues, as he was given ample time to talk at length in the video.
The BJP leader got a chance to rebut every point mentioned by the BCC. But, no one can deny that what the BBC have shown in its two-part series has not taken place in the world’s largest democracy during BJP rule.
Politics of demolition
Besides the two issues that BBC did not cover, the bulldozer (in) justice against Muslims could also have been added in the documentary. From Delhi, Uttar Pradesh to Madhya Pradesh and in many parts of the country, this method has been used in recent times to further target the largest minority.
Earlier in India, in every criminal or civil case, due process used to be followed. But now, police have bypassed all the judiciary process and within two days, houses of the accused are being demolished.
Even during Covid lockdown evictions took place on a large scale.
Unofficial data shows that between March 2020 and July 2021 (during lockdown), 2. 57 lakh homes were demolished across the country. In the year 2021, total 3. 48 lakhs homes demolished. Datas also revealed that most of these states where it has been done are being ruled by the BJP.
After the citizenship issue, it has also created a humanitarian crisis in the country.
However, as it’s a very recent and latest addition among the many atrocities committed by the Modi-led BJP government, it may not come under the planning of the makers.
I was discussing it with senior journalist Uttam Sengupta, who agreed and said, “Hope it may lead to BBC to come up with another episode in future.”