The Kerala unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday tried to disrupt the screening of the controversial BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” and clashed with the police in the state capital. Police fired several rounds of water cannons and many workers suffered minor injuries, said a senior official adding effective intervention of police prevented workers from storming the screening site at Poojapura grounds. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), youth wing of the ruling CPI(M), organised the screening even as the BJP opposed it vehemently.
The BJP workers marched to the screening site and when police blocked them, they tried to remove the barricades forcing police to fire several rounds of water cannons. Later, the workers clashed with police but organisers said that the screening was unaffected despite protests. Similar protests were reported from Palakkad and Wayanad districts, said police. Taking a leaf out of the DYFI, Youth Congress has also decided to screen the documentary at selective locations throughout the state on January 26, Republic Day.
The documentary found support in Youth Congress leader Anil K Antony, senior leader A K Antony’s son. “Despite differences with the BJP, the BBC, a state-sponsored channel with a long history of prejudices, and of Jack Straw, brain behind the Iraq war, over Indian institutions is setting a dangerous precedence, will undermine our sovereignty,” he tweeted. The Youth Congress, however, rejected his tweets.
“That is his personal comment and we reject it. We will go ahead with the screening on the Republic Day. We will approach the party to take action against him,” said Youth Congress leader Rejil Makkutty.
The 59-minute documentary is about the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister. 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 a “propaganda material that lacked objectivity and guided by a colonial mindset” but the channel stood its ground.
The BJP opposed the screening strongly and made several pleas to Kerala chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to not allow the documentary.
“It is a move to insult the country and its judicial process. Some people want to whip an unfortunate incident happened two decades ago to create unrest. It will whip up communal passion again and Gujarat did not witness a communal riot in last two decades,” said party state president K Surendran.
Minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan also asked the state government to not give permission for screening adding that the highest court of the country had already given a final verdict in 2013.