Washington: National Press Club, a leading voice for press freedom in the United States and worldwide, has strongly condemned the ban on BBC Documentary- India: The Modi Question by the Indian Government.
The international press body argued with the Government of India to let people decide whether to watch or not.
Meanwhile, hundreds of students are getting suspended or being detained for screening the documentary on university campuses across India.
NPC’s president Eileen O’Reilly as well as Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute jointly issued a statement on the decision by the government of India to censor the airing of a BBC news documentary probing the role Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have played in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
It reads, “India should be proud that it is the largest democracy in the world, but it cannot hold on to that identity if it continues to erode press freedom, persecute journalists, and suppress news that holds a mirror up to its shortcomings. Since Modi came to power, we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his government — time and time again — has suppressed the right of its citizens to a free and independent news media.”
And added, “We strongly urge the government of India to rescind its ban on the BBC documentary and to allow the citizens of India to decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with its findings. The BBC is one of the most respected news sources in the world and is known for its high editorial standards.
We also demand in the strongest terms, the government stop its persecution of journalists and suppression of press freedom in India.”
After the BBC aired a two-part documentary entitled ‘ndia: The Modi Question’ on Jan. 17, the Indian government used its emergency powers to ban it from being aired in the country. Modi’s government also forced Twitter and YouTube to block the documentary in India under an unjust 2021 information technology law, which the National Press Club has previously criticized.
The BBC documentary examines PM Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots when he was chief minister of the western Indian state. During the riots, thousands of predominantly Muslim Indians were killed, many were raped and Muslim establishments were set on fire.
The Indian Supreme Court exonerated Modi in 2012 of wrongdoing but the documentary notes the British Foreign Office produced an unpublished report claiming Modi was ‘directly responsible’ for enabling the impunity of violence that led to the killings.
Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists.
The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged, global citizenry through an independent and free press. The NPCJI is the nonprofit affiliate of the National Press Club.