New Delhi: A group of 302 former judges, ex-bureaucrats and veterans on Saturday slammed a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "motivated charge sheet against our leader, a fellow Indian and a patriot" and a reflection of its "dyed-in-the-wool negativity and unrelenting prejudice".
They claimed it is the archetype of past British imperialism in India setting itself up as both judge and jury to resurrect Hindu-Muslim tensions that were overwhelmingly the creation of the British Raj policy of divide and rule.
The two-part BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" claims it investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Modi was the chief minister of the state. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the BBC documentary, according to sources.
This documentary is not a neutral critique and is not about exercising creative freedom or a divergent, anti-establishment point of view, a statement signed by 13 former judges, 133 ex-bureaucrats, including diplomats, and 156 veterans said.
"Not only is the BBC series, judging from what we have seen of it so far, based on delusional and evidently lopsided reporting, but it presumes to question the very basis of the 75-year-old edifice of India's existence as an independent, democratic nation, a nation which functions according to the will of the people of India," it said.
Former Rajasthan High Court chief justice Anil Deo Singh, former home secretary L C Goyal, former foreign secretary Shashank, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi and former NIA director Yogesh Chander Modi are among the signatories to the letter.
"BBC's 'India: The Modi Question': Delusions of British Imperial Resurrection? Not this time. Not with our leader. Not with India. Never on our watch," they said.
Their statement added, "Regardless of whom you, as an individual Indian, might have voted for, the Prime Minister of India is the Prime Minister of your country, our country. We cannot allow just about anyone to run amok with their deliberate bias, their vacuous reasoning.... " Their statement alleged that the BBC series reeks of motivated distortion that is "as mind-numbingly unsubstantiated as it is nefarious".
This is demonstrated, it said, vividly by its completely sidelining the core fact that the Supreme Court of India has unambiguously ruled out any role of Narendra Modi in the Gujarat riots of 2002, rejecting allegations of complicity and inaction by the then state government headed by him.
The SC had upheld the closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team, appointed by it, after years of investigation.
The statement noted that the court had dismissed allegations made against Modi and others on the basis of the “ultra-sensational revelations” made by then police officers, including R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, and by BJP leader Haren Pandya.
The court had said it was done to “sensationalise and politicise the matters in issue, although replete with falsehood”, it said.
The BBC documentary has mentioned them.
It is also full of "glaring factual errors" which seem motivated, the statement alleged.
The statement noted that the BBC has called The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) unfair to Muslims, though it is in fact a law to help minorities facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and has nothing to do with Indian Muslims.
It added, "Similarly, Article 370 was a temporary provision of the Constitution of India, never meant to be permanent. Thus, its removal was in no manner a violation of constitutional norms." It is time to let the BBC know that India does not need "colonial, imperialistic, somnambulistic outsiders" whose primary claim to fame has been 'divide and rule' under the British Raj to teach Indians how to live together in unity, the statement said.
"Inclusion is inherent in India. Instead of making a documentary titled, 'India: The Modi Question', the BBC should begin by questioning their own bias against Prime Minister Modi and make a documentary called, 'BBC: The Ethical Question'."