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BBC documentary screening sparks protests in Kerala capital

Police step up surveillance in various parts of city to avert clashes

January 24, 2023 10:18 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:22 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

People watching the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question during a screening organised by Youth Congress workers at Manaveeyam Veedhi on Tuesday.

People watching the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question during a screening organised by Youth Congress workers at Manaveeyam Veedhi on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

The State capital remained on tenterhooks on Tuesday after the feeder organisations of the CPI(M) and the Congress held multiple screenings of the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question even as the police scrambled to contain protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and de-escalate tensions.

While the documentary was shown by the Students Federation of India (SFI) in a classroom of the Government Law College here without any hiccups on Tuesday morning, the first public screening organised by the Youth Congress at Manaveeyam Veedhi later sparked tensions, with Yuva Morcha activists holding a protest march in the area. The police forcefully removed around 10 protesters to prevent a clash with Youth Congress workers.

Also read: Internet Archive takes down upload of BBC’s Modi documentary

The situation took a turn for the worse when a larger group of BJP workers demonstrated against another screening organised by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) at Poojappura. While the police had barricaded the Poojappura–Thirumala road leading to the screening venue near the Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, the agitators attempted to topple the barricades. While activists hurled sticks and stones at the police, water cannon was used nearly 10 times to force the agitators to disperse from the area. The chaos also led to a major traffic snarl towards Jagathy, Pangode and Mudavanmugal for over an hour.

Accusing the government of permitting the screening of a documentary that has not been approved by the censor board, BJP district president V.V. Rajesh alleged that women protesters were manhandled by the police during their agitation. One activist was hospitalised after she complained of uneasiness, he said.

The police have intensified surveillance in various parts of the city to avert clashes among rival organisations in wake of the documentary screening.

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