Jan 21, 2023
India Blocks Social Media Posts on BBC Documentary on 2002 Riots
(Bloomberg) -- The Indian government has asked social media giants Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube to take down videos and tweets about a BBC documentary on 2002 religious riots in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
India’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued directions for blocking multiple videos hosted on Youtube of the first episode of the documentary, titled as India: The Modi Question, Kanchan Gupta, a former journalist and adviser with the ministry said in Twitter posts Saturday.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday had dismissed the work as “propaganda piece.”
Orders have also been issued to Twitter to block over 50 tweets with links to Youtube videos, Gupta added. Blocking of the content is allowed via “emergency powers” under India’s information technology rules and Youtube and Twitter have have complied with the directions, Gupta said.
Google did not respond to an email seeking comment on whether it had received orders to take down the BBC documentary links, or if it had removed the videos on copyright violation. Twitter also did not respond to email queries.
The South Asian nation has seen rising anti-Muslim sentiment as Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have pushed ahead with their Hindu nationalist agenda since first coming to power in 2014.
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More than 1,000 people — mostly Muslims — were killed in sectarian violence across the state after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was burned allegedly by a Muslim mob. Human rights groups blamed Modi for doing little to stop the violence, allegations that were denied by him and later dismissed by India’s Supreme Court.
The BBC has restricted broadcast of the documentary in India, posting the film on social media would be “a violation of Intellectual Property Rights,” Arindam Bagchi, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters at a routine briefing in New Delhi Thursday.
--With assistance from Sankalp Phartiyal and Bibhudatta Pradhan.
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