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Centre Blocks Tweets Sharing BBC Documentary Critical Of PM Modi: Sources

Many tweets and YouTube videos of the documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” no longer appear on the microblogging and video-sharing websites.

The centre has ordered Twitter and YouTube to take down links of a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people with direct knowledge of the matter have said.

Tweets and YouTube videos of the documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” no longer appear on the microblogging and video-sharing websites.

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry told the two social media giants to block the first episode of the BBC documentary, people familiar with the matter said, a day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the documentary series, saying he “doesn’t agree with the characterisation” of his Indian counterpart in the UK’s parliament by Pakistan-origin MP Imran Hussain.

The ministry told Twitter to remove over 50 tweets on the documentary by Britain’s national broadcaster, the people said.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien was among some opposition leaders whose tweet on the documentary was removed by Twitter.

“Censorship. Twitter has taken down my tweet of the BBC documentary. It received lakhs of views. The one-hour BBC documentary exposes how PM hates minorities,” Mr O’Brien alleged.

The I&B Ministry gave the order to take down the links using emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, and both YouTube and Twitter have agreed to follow the order, people with knowledge of the matter said.

India has called the documentary a “propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset.

The centre has also told YouTube and Twitter to take down fresh links of the documentary if some people upload or tweet them again, sources said.

Officials of several ministries including home and foreign, apart from I&B, have examined the documentary closely and found it to be an attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court, sow divisions among communities in India and make unsubstantiated allegations on actions of foreign governments in India, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

A Supreme Court-appointed investigation had found no evidence of wrongdoing by PM Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots broke out in February 2002.

Yesterday, while shutting down the Pakistan-origin MP who raised the documentary in the British parliament, Prime Minister Sunak, the son-in-law of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, said, “The UK government’s position on this has been clear and long-standing and hasn’t changed, of course, we don’t tolerate persecution where it appears anywhere but I am not sure I agree at all with the characterization that the honourable gentleman has put forward to.”

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