The Kerala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday tried to disrupt the screening of a controversial BBC documentary. “India: The Modi Question”. And there was a clash with the police in the state capital. Police fired several rounds of water cannons and several workers suffered minor injuries, a senior official said, adding that effective police intervention prevented workers from storming the screening site at Poojapura Ground. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the ruling CPI(M), organized the screening even as the BJP strongly opposed it.
BJP workers marched to the screening site and when the police stopped them, they tried to remove the barricades, prompting the police to fire several rounds of water cannon. The activists later clashed with the police, but organizers said the screening was not affected despite the protests. Police said similar protests were reported from Palakkad and Wayanad districts. Taking a leaf from DYFI, the Youth Congress has also decided to screen the documentary on January 26, Republic Day at selected locations across the state.
The documentary received support from Youth Congress leader Anil K Antony, son of senior leader AK Antony. He tweeted, “Despite differences with the BJP, the BBC, a state-sponsored channel with a long history of prejudice, and Jack Straw, the mastermind behind the Iraq war, maintains a dangerous lead over Indian institutions.” To do so would undermine our sovereignty.” . However, the Youth Congress rejected his tweets.
“This is his personal comment and we reject it. We will go ahead with the screening on Republic Day. We will approach the party to take action against him,” said Youth Congress leader Regal Makoti.
The 59-minute documentary is about the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state. The Indian government has directed social media and video sharing companies to remove the documentary or links to it from their platforms.
The Ministry of External Affairs had dubbed the documentary as “propaganda material lacking objectivity and guided by a colonial mentality”, but the channel stood its ground.
The BJP strongly opposed the screening and made several requests to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan not to allow the documentary.
It is an insult to the country and its judicial process. Some people want to whip up a tragic incident that happened two decades ago to spread unrest. It will rekindle communal sentiment and Gujarat has not seen communal riots in the last two decades,” said party state president K Surendran.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muralidharan also asked the state government not to allow the screening and said the country’s highest court had already given a final verdict in 2013.