The BBC documentary on Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots has been blocked from viewing in India.
Steps taken under the Emergency Powers, which have never been used before in the country.
The order comes in response to a complaint that claimed that the film defamed the Prime Minister. It also exclaims as an attempt to influence voters ahead of upcoming state elections.
The instructions for preventing the first episode of the BBC documentary “India: According to reports, the Information and Broadcasting Secretary used emergency powers granted by the IT Rules, 2021, to issue the Modi Question on Friday.
“The Modi Question” is available on YouTube
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has instructed the BBC Documentary “India: According to reliable sources, “The Modi Question” is available on YouTube. According to the sources, Twitter was requested to block more than fifty tweets containing links to the YouTube video.
Using emergency powers granted by the IT Rules, 2021, the Information and Broadcasting Secretary reportedly issued the directions on Friday. According to the sources, YouTube and Twitter have followed the instructions.
What are these emergency powers?
The government’s authority regarding the “Blocking of information in case of emergency” is outlined in Rule 16 of the IT Rules, 2021, formally known as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and notified on February 25, 2021.
What does the rule says?
The Rule says that “In case of emergency nature, the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may, if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable for blocking for public access of any information or part thereof through any computer resource and…as an interim measure issue such directions as he may consider necessary to such identified or identifiable persons, publishers or intermediary in control of such computer resource hosting such information or part thereof without giving him an opportunity of hearing.”
Such orders may be passed on certain specified grounds including national security and public order.
What has the government said about the documentary?
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has rejected the documentary produced by BBC as a “propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset. The documentary was not made available in India by BBC, but it was available on YouTube for some time.
What Ministry said about the documentary?
According to sources, senior officials from ministries like the MEA, Home, and I&B examined the documentary and concluded that it was an attempt to undermine the Supreme Court of India’s authority and credibility, divide Indian communities, and make unsubstantiated claims about foreign governments’ actions in India.
According to sources, the documentary harmed India’s sovereignty and integrity, has the potential to harm India’s friendly relations with other nations, and threatens public order in the country.