Issue Brief on “BBC Documentary: A New Controversy Hits India”

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A storm of controversy has engulfed India as BBC aired its two-part series, entitled “India: The Modi Question.” Part one of this documentary, broadcast on 17 January 2023, digs out certain facts that indicate that the 2002 Gujarat killings, in which around 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, lost their lives, were systematic and politically motivated. The current Indian Prime Minister was the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat at that time. The documentary explores the then Chief Minister’s direct involvement in what it calls the ‘pogrom’ of Muslims under the nose of the entire state machinery.

Most of the facts stated in the documentary are not new. The fate of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri and the desperate appeals for help he made to the state authorities before being hacked and burned to death; former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya’s claims of the Chief Minister’s direct involvement in the killings and his murder under mysterious circumstances a year later;[1] and testimonies of two senior police officers[2] implicating the Gujarat Chief Minister and the repercussions they faced have been widely known in India. Similarly, claims by two Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists on a hidden camera that the then Chief Minister had allowed them to maim and burn Muslim women and children and run riot for three days are also no secret.[3]

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