The BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticised harshly by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday.
It was described as a ‘propaganda piece’ with bias intended to advance a specific ‘discredited’ narrative.
“The documentary is a reflection on the agency that has made it. We think it is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, lack of objectivity, and continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible. Can’t dignify such a film,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
‘India: The Modi Question‘ is a BBC documentary series, the first episode of which aired on Tuesday and was taken down from YouTube on Wednesday. On January 24, the second episode of the series is expected to air. The documentary series focuses on Narendra Modi’s tenure as Gujarat’s chief minister.
Referring to apparent remarks made by former UK Secretary Jack Straw in the documentary series, Bagchi said “He (Jack Straw) seems to be referring to some internal UK report. How do I have access to that? It’s a 20-year-old report. Why would we jump on it now? Just because Jack says it how do they lend it that much legitimacy.”
“I heard words like inquiry and investigations. There is a reason why we use the colonial mindset. We don’t use words loosely. What inquiry they were diplomats there…investigation, are they ruling the country? Bagchi asked.
The documentary which is aired only in the United Kingdom looks at the escalating tension between the Muslim community and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as Hindu right-wing organisations – Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The first part of the two-part series, reportedly reveals ‘never-seen-before’ or ‘restricted’ documents in detail. These reports were never published to the public.
The summary of the report mentions statements such as “extend of violence much greater than reported”, “widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women”, “violence politically motivated”, “aim was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas”, “their systematic of violence has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”.
Speaking to the BBC, former foreign secretary, Jack Straw (2001-2006) said he was personally involved in the investigations as the data and results provided were alarming.
“I was very worried about it. I took a great deal of personal interest because India is an important country with whom we (the UK) have relations. And so, we had to handle it very carefully,” Straw told the BBC, adding, “What we did was establish an inquiry and have a team go to Gujarat and find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very thorough report.”
Reacting to the development, Lord Rami Ranger, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, accused the BBC of being biased in its reporting.
“@BBCNews You have caused a great deal of hurt to over a billion Indians It insults a democratically elected@PMOIndia Indian Police and the Indian judiciary. We condemn the riots and loss of life and also condemn your biased reporting,” he tweeted.