Alleging a “conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India”, the Gujarat Assembly on March 10 passed a resolution against British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for airing a documentary on 2002 communal riots.
The resolution also urged the Centre to take stringent action against the media house “for attempting to tarnish the image and popularity of the PM” with the documentary.
The two-part documentary titled India: The Modi Question was banned by the Central government and Income-Tax authorities had carried out a ‘survey’ on the premises of the BBC.
The resolution was moved by BJP legislator Vipul Patel who contended that the documentary misrepresented the events of 2002 in a malicious manner and called it a low-level attempt to tarnish India’s image globally.
“India is a democratic country and freedom of expression is at the core of its Constitution, but that does not mean news media can act by abusing such freedom,” Mr. Patel said while moving the private-member resolution.
The resolution was passed unanimously by the ruling party members as Opposition members were suspended from House proceedings.
The resolution was supported by BJP legislators Manisha Vakil, Amit Thaker, Independent MLA Dhawalsinh Zala and Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi.
After the resolution was passed unanimously, Speaker Shankar Chaudhary said the attempt by BBC is “reprehensible” and is “condemned vehemently”, adding the House passed the resolution to send its message to the Centre.
During an hour-long debate over the resolution, the Treasury Bench members slammed the BBC, accusing it of running “hidden agenda” against Mr. Modi and rising stature of India globally.
The members cited the inquiry commission report of Justices G.T. Nanavati and Akshay Mehta, who probed the 2002 riots, and concluded that the riots were spontaneous and there was no interference from the government in the police action against the rioters.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the 2002 riots triggered by the burning of a Sabarmati Express coach, in which 59 pilgrims were charred to death.
The ruling party members also called to attention the investigation by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI Director Dr. R.K. Raghavan, which provided clean chit to then CM Narendra Modi and other top functionaries of the State.
They also saw the documentary as an attempt to “tarnish” India before next year’s parliamentary election. The members also slammed Opposition parties for not supporting the government “which fights against elements that work against India and its interests”.