The Indian government has ordered the video streaming platform, YouTube and the microblogging platform, Twitter to pull down videos and tweets about a BBC documentary that doesn’t cast the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in good light.
The country’s ministry of information issued the directives to the tech companies under the IT Rules, 2021 which give the ministry the authority to take down posts that she believes undermine the sovereignty and integrity of India, and have the “potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign countries as well as public order within the country,” Gupta said in a statement.
The ministry issued the order “for blocking multiple YouTube videos” and “over 50 tweets” linked to the videos of the first episode of a BBC documentary.
Gupta termed the BBC documentary “hateful propaganda.” Gupta said multiple ministries, including MEA, MHA, and MIB, analyzed BBC’s “malicious documentary” and found it “casting aspersions on the authority and credibility of Supreme Court of India, sowing divisions among various Indian communities, and making unsubstantiated allegations,” he wrote in a Twitter thread that was seen by Gadgets Africa.
On January 17, the BBC aired the first episode of the two-part documentary, “India: The Modi Question.” The series talks about the 2002 riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat, where Modi was the Chief Minister at the time. The communal riot led to the deaths of almost 800 Muslims and over 250 Hindus, according to official figures.
The riots started after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire.
The Supreme Court of India appointed a Special Investigation Team to look into the matter, and a decade later, Modi was exonerated because he had taken steps to control the riots. Another petition that tried to question Modi’s exoneration was dismissed in 2022.
However, in the response, the BBC said: “The documentary was rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards. A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we have featured a range of opinions – this includes responses from people in the BJP [India’s ruling party]. We offered the Indian Government a right to reply to the matters raised in the series – it declined to respond,”
This is not the first time a documentary about the prime minister has stirred controversy. Disney-owned Hotstar, India’s largest video streaming service with at least 300 million users, once blocked an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” that was critical of Modi.