Support free press: US after India bans BBC Modi documentary
Calling India's move to ban the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi a matter of press freedom, the US State Department on Wednesday emphasized the significance of democratic principles like freedom of expression. The United States (US) also highlighted the importance of "democratic principles" like freedom of religion and expression that further strengthen democracy, reported the news agency ANI.
Why does this story matter?
- The BBC documentary India: The Modi Question looks into PM Modi's role as the state's chief minister during the 2002 Gujarat riots, which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people.
- Immediately after the release, the Indian government decided to ban it, claiming that the documentary pushed a "discredited narrative."
- Following the ban, several Opposition parties announced the screening of the documentary in defiance.
US supports free press across the world: Price
During a regular briefing, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price underlined that Washington backs press freedom worldwide, stating, "We support the importance of a free press around the world." "We continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles, such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, as human rights that contribute to the strengthening of our democracies," he added.
Price earlier denied being familiar with the documentary
While speaking about US-India global strategic ties on Monday, Price said that he was not familiar with the BBC documentary. "I'm not familiar with the documentary you're referring to. [But] I am very familiar with the shared values that enact the United States and India as two thriving, vibrant democracies. We look to everything that ties us together," he added.
Students detained as BBC documentary screening announced in Jamia Millia
Following the announcement by the Students Federation of India (SFI) of the screening of the banned BBC documentary at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, police detained over a dozen students for allegedly causing a commotion outside the campus. Classes were canceled as a result of the announcement, and riot police arrived at the university's gates in vans with tear gas cannons.
Numerous groups announce screenings across India
On Tuesday, University of Hyderabad (UoH) student groups screened the banned documentary, after which the university authority demanded a report on it from its officials. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) also announced screenings across Kerala, which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called "treasonous." Furthermore, Presidency University students in Kolkata also demanded permission to screen the documentary on Friday.
BBC documentary on PM Modi a propaganda piece: MEA
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the banned BBC documentary completely biased. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, during a weekly presser in New Delhi, stated: "We think this is a propaganda piece. This has no objectivity. This is biased. Do note that this hasn't been screened in India. We don't want to answer more on this so that this doesn't get much dignity."