Indian university reports power cut ahead of Modi documentary screening

NEW DELHI, Jan 24 (Reuters): A major Indian university cut power and internet on campus on Tuesday ahead of a student union screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, broadcaster NDTV reported. .

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the capital New Delhi had threatened disciplinary action if the documentary was screened, saying the move would disturb peace and harmony on campus.

The documentary, which questioned his leadership of the deadly 2002 riots in his home state of Gujarat, was labeled a “propaganda piece” by the Modi government, blocking its broadcast and preventing the sharing of clips via social media in India.

Modi was the chief minister of the western state during the violence that killed more than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims.

The student union at JNU, long seen as a bastion of left-wing politics, was scheduled to screen the documentary “India: The Modi Question” at 9 pm (1530 GMT).

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The documentary is now being watched on mobile phones through links shared on Telegram and Vimeo ( VMEO.O ) after the power outage, said a person who was with the students inside the campus.

“Right now there are about 300 people on campus streaming the documentary on their phones because the power went out half an hour before the screening,” the person, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters.

Footage from inside the campus also showed some students reclining on chairs together watching movies on laptops.

The JNU media coordinator did not respond when asked about reports of internet outages and power cuts inside the campus. A source in the administration said a fault in the power line caused damage to faculty residences and other facilities and the issue was being looked into.

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The university administration had earlier clarified that permission was not given to show the documentary.

This is to emphasize that such illegal activity will disturb the peace and harmony of the university campus.

“Students/individuals concerned are strictly advised to cancel the proposed program immediately, failing which strict disciplinary action may be initiated as per University rules.”

Union president Aishe Ghosh took to Twitter to ask students to attend the screening, describing it as ‘banned’ by the ‘elected government’ of the biggest ‘democracy’.

Ghosh did not respond to phone calls and messages after reports of a power outage on campus.

According to the police, vigilance has been stepped up following a request from the campus.

The documentary was also screened on some campuses in the communist-ruled southern Indian state of Kerala, The Hindu newspaper reported.

India’s home ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the government’s plans to screen the film in JNU and Kerala.

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In 2002, the Gujarat violence erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people. Later, mobs invaded Muslim areas. In 2017, 11 people were sentenced to life imprisonment for burning a train.

Modi accused him of not doing enough to stop the riots and was acquitted in 2012 following an inquiry overseen by the Supreme Court. Another petition challenging his acquittal was dismissed last year.

The BBC said last week that the documentary was “rigorously researched” and included a range of voices and opinions, including reactions from people in Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly, Shivam Patel and Roop Jain; Additional reporting by Krishnan Kaushik; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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