London: The second (and last) episode of the BBC documentary series India: the Modi question aired in the UK on BBC Two last night. He says he is inspecting the troubled relationship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s Muslim minority, after Modi was re-elected in 2019 with an increased majority on his government term in 2014.
The report, which was released a few hours ago in the UK, examines the sudden reading of Section 370 and the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (considered discriminatory and unconstitutional by a prominent section and still at heard by the Supreme Court) as well as communal violence in North East Delhi in 2020. The latest episode of this BBC series examines independent reports, testimonies and commentary from affected parties, academics, members of the press and civil society, and quote government and defense policies on each issue. It also includes detailed comments from three people representing the BJP’s view, primarily journalist and former BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta.
The documentary claims that despite Modi’s promise of a new era of prosperity and a new India, the country under his rule was marred by religious unrest. Although all charges against him relating to the Gujarat riots have been cleared by India’s highest court, it is inevitable that the worries will not go away, according to the new episode.
Three years after he came to power in 2014, there have been numerous cases of lynchings against Muslims. As the Pink Revolution, beef transport had become increasingly controversial, following which beef was made illegal in many Indian states, with cows considered sacred by Hindus. The documentary, which focuses on the issue of cow vigilance, tells the story of Alimuddin Ansari, who was killed by cow vigilantes in 2017, the same day Modi spoke out after his long silence. Shortly after, there was a surprising development, according to the film.
The documentary chronicles how BJP spokesman Nityanand Mahato was found guilty of killing Alimuddins and sentenced to life in prison. But one of Modis’ ministers helped him and the other convicts pay their court costs. And greeted them with a garland of flowers.
They are the leaders of the whole country and when the leaders of the country support these people, there is nothing we the poor can do, Ansaris’ wife pleads in the film. More than four years later, men are still free, the film concludes.
According to Human Rights Watch, quoted in the film, over the three and a half years between May 2015 and December 2018, vigilantes killed 44 people and injured around 280 in cow-related violence, most of the victims of which were Muslim.
When Swapan Dasgupta was asked about the frequency of lynchings increasing alarmingly as a widespread practice in India, he called it an unwarranted assumption. Modis’ brand of Hindu nationalism has been backed by a record number of Indian voters, Dasgupta claims in defense of the prime ministers.
The fundamental objective is to Hinduize the functioning of India and to irrevocably change the political, social and cultural nature of India. Essentially the gloves are taken off, can be heard in the film Chris Ogden, Indian politics expert and associate professor at the University of St Andrews.
On the controversial and drastic reading of Section 370 in August 2019 and the unprecedented conversion of a state into a union territory and its bifurcation by New Delhi, the film says it was nine weeks after the PMs of Modi took an oath that troops were sent. in Kashmir. The result was a communication breakdown as direct control of the region was seized by New Delhi.
However, according to the film, the government claims that its policies are bringing peace and development to the region.
With these developments, a new politics of Indianization is taking shape, according to researcher, author and long-time India observer Christophe Jaffrelot. The film claims that nearly 4,000 people were detained in the first month alone (after establishing control over the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir) following the reading of Article 370.
CAA and violence in northeast Delhi
On the large-scale protests that erupted against the CAA, intended to link religion with Indian citizenship, which raised alarm among prominent sections, and then the communal violence in Delhi in February 2020 that left at least 53 dead , the film says, Extremist Hindu clerics issued threats against Muslim protesters.
Faizan, a 23-year-old Muslim, was beaten to death by police, the documentary claims, citing a viral video. Faizans’ mother can be heard saying in the film, I want justice for my son. He was innocent and was killed for no reason.
The film states that two-thirds of the dead [in the 2020 Delhi violence] would have been Muslims.
The film cites an Amnesty International investigation which found that the police had committed serious human rights violations, including torture and ill-treatment, excessive and arbitrary use of force against protesters and active participation in violence.
Aakar Patel, president of Amnesty International India, is heard to say that Amnesty’s report on the violence in Delhi showed that the police did not act as they should have acted. Where he acted, he often named the wrong people. Often the victims were named as the perpetrators of the violence. And we called for a proper investigation into these acts, which so far has not taken place.
The Delhi Police are quoted in the film as claiming that Amnesty’s report was lopsided and biased against the police and maliciously reported human rights abuses.
During the riots, police arrested more than 2,000 people, both Hindus and Muslims.
Muslims got the message that they shouldn’t expect the state to protect them, journalist Alisan Jafri said in the film.
Arundhati Roy says: We talk to each other saying: Do you think this will happen? Do you think it will really be like Rwanda? Why am I talking to you in this movie? Only for there to be a recording somewhere that we weren’t all okay with it. But this is not a cry for help, because no help will come.
Today in India, the BBC film concludes, journalists face violence, intimidation and arrest for doing their job. Activists say press freedom has declined since Narendra Modi came to power and is now in crisis. Human rights activists say they are also under attack.
Amnesty India says it was forced to suspend its operations by the government. The government said the group broke the law by circumventing foreign donation rules.
Thousands of NGOs closed in India after 2015, the film claims. In the final moments of the film, Dasgupta can be heard saying: Our democracy may not be perfect, but it just keeps getting better.
When Modi came to power in 2014, India was considered a free country by US think tank Freedom House. Now it’s only partially free, the film says.
Why hasn’t there been more international outcry? According to Jaffrelot, [The] West sees India as the best way to balance China. And that’s why they won’t criticize, they won’t condemn most of the decisions that have been made. Human rights are not very high on the list anymore because there is a greater challenge (China).
The description of the film says Modi and his government reject any suggestion that their policies reflect bias towards Muslims, but these policies have been repeatedly criticized by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. This organization has now closed its offices in Delhi following the freezing of its bank accounts as part of an investigation into financial irregularities, according to the Indian government, a charge denied by Amnesty.
Video recordings of the first episode of this BBC series have been ordered to be removed from online portals and social media platforms in India, citing the Union Government’s emergency powers in an act criticized as censorship , made to protect the image of Narendra Modis, according to media organizations, civil society and opposition parties. The censorship was deemed necessary despite Modi presenting his views and denying the allegations in interviews with the BBC in the documentary.
The first episode of this documentary series, which aired in the UK last week, revealed chilling details of a hitherto unseen UK government report on violence in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi was Chief Minister of Foreign Affairs. State. The UK government report has been shown to hold Modi directly responsible for the violence.
Kalrav Joshi is a multimedia journalist based in London. He writes about politics, culture, technology and climate.
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