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India students angry over Modi documentary

January 26, 2023 00:00:00

NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (BBC): Tensions have flared at two of India's best-known universities over the screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his role in deadly religious riots in 2002.

Reports say police detained students at Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi ahead of a planned screening. On Tuesday students at another Delhi university said power and internet was cut to stop them showing the film.

India's government says the documentary lacks objectivity and is "propaganda". It has invoked emergency laws to block the documentary on YouTube and Twitter. Dozens of police personnel wearing riot gear are deployed at Jamia university and officials there have said they will not allow any "unauthorised gatherings".

A BBC Hindi reporter, who is on the campus, said the university's gates had been locked and described the atmosphere inside as calm at the moment. There is, however, a huge crowd of students and journalists outside. Videos show dozens of police personnel standing in a line outside the locked gate.

The screening plan had been announced by the Students' Federation of India, which is affiliated to a communist party.

It comes hours after trouble at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi on Tuesday night. Students there accused officials of cutting off power and internet supply to stop a screening. University officials are yet to comment on the allegation.

The university administration had asked the JNU students' union not to screen the film, saying it could "disturb the peace and harmony of the university campus".

Although the power cut prevented the public screening, JNU student leaders distributed QR codes so people could stream the video on their laptops and phones.

There was a heavy police presence on that campus too. While students were watching the documentary, stones were thrown at them by "a group of 20-30 people", our reporter said. Students say they have filed a police complaint.

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