Students in India plan to show BBC documentary

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Students in India plan to show BBC documentary

Indian students said they would show a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the government dismissed as propaganda after a Tuesday campus screening was disrupted by a power cut and intimidation by opponents.

The Students Federation of India SFI plans to show the documentary, India: The Modi Question, in every Indian state, its general secretary told Reuters on Wednesday.

More than a dozen students were arrested on Wednesday by the police at a New Delhi university ahead of the screening, according to the broadcaster NDTV.

Modi s government has labelled the documentary, which questions his leadership during riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, as a propaganda piece and blocked its airing. It has also banned the sharing of clips on social media in India.

During the violence in which about 1,000 people were killed, most of them Muslims, Modi was the chief minister of the western state. Human rights activists put the toll at around 2,500.

They won't stop the voice of dissent, said Mayukh Biswas, general secretary of the SFI, the student wing of the Communist Party of India Marxist A warning was issued by the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi on Tuesday against student gatherings ahead of the SFI's scheduled screening of the BBC documentary on Wednesday evening.

The police detained more than a dozen students about an hour ahead of the screening, according to the broadcaster.

The Delhi Police did not immediately confirm whether students were indicted but said there was heavy deployment of police and security forces in riot control gear at the university.

The deployment was to maintain law and order because of the screening and India s Republic Day on January 26, police said.

In December of 2019 the university saw violent clashes between students and police over a new law that prevents Muslims in countries neighbouring India from gaining citizenship.

On Tuesday, hundreds of students watched the BBC documentary on mobile phones and laptops at Jawaharlal Nehru University after power was cut in the campus, said student leader Aishe Ghosh.

The university threatened to take disciplinary action if the documentary was screened.

Ghosh said it was the administration that cut off the power. As an act of resistance against censorship, campuses across the country are encouraged to hold screenings, said Ghosh.

The media coordinator for the university administration didn't make a statement when asked about the power cut on the campus.

Ghosh said that members of a right-wing student group threw bricks at students hoping to watch the documentary, hurting several, and students had complained to police.

A student group spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment.

A police spokeswoman didn't respond immediately to questions.

The 2002 Gujarat violence erupted after a suspected Muslim mob set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, setting off one of India's worst outbreaks of religious bloodshed.

Over the past few days, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in reprisal attacks across Gujarat, when crowds roamed the streets, targeting the minority group.

Critics accuse Modi of failing to protect Muslims. Modi denies the allegations and a Supreme Court-ordered investigation found no evidence to prosecute him. A petition questioning his exoneration was dismissed last year.

The BBC said the documentary was rigorously researched and involved a wide range of voices and opinions, including responses from people in Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.