NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A major Indian university cut electricity and internet on campus on Tuesday before its students’ union screened a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India branded as propaganda, television station NDTV reported. . .
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the capital, New Delhi, has threatened disciplinary action if the documentary is shown, saying the move could disturb peace and harmony on campus.
Describing the documentary, which questioned his leadership during deadly riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, Modi’s government has banned it from being broadcast as well as any clips from being shared via social media in India.
Modi was the chief minister of the western state during the violence in which more than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.
The Student Union of the University of New Jersey, long seen as a bastion of left-wing politics, was scheduled to screen the documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” at 9pm (1530GMT).
A person present with students on campus said the documentary is now being watched on mobile phones through links shared via Telegram and Vimeo. (VMEO.O) After a power outage.
“There are about 300 people streaming the documentary right now on campus on their phones since the power went out half an hour before the show,” the person, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.
Footage from inside the campus showed some students huddled together and watching the film on a laptop computer propped up on a chair.
JNU’s media coordinator did not comment when asked about reports of internet outages and power outages on campus. A source in the administration said that a fault in the power line caused outages in the residences of faculty members and other facilities, and this problem is being looked into.
The university administration said earlier that it did not allow the documentary to be shown.
“This is to underscore that such unauthorized activity may disturb the peace and harmony on the university campus,” she added.
“Students/individuals concerned are strongly advised to cancel the proposed program immediately, otherwise severe disciplinary action may be taken as per University rules.”
Union President Ayesha Ghosh had asked the students via Twitter to attend the parade, calling it “banned” by the “elected government” of the largest “democracy”.
Ghosh did not return phone calls and a message after reports surfaced of a power outage on campus.
Police said police vigilance was intensified following a request from the campus.
The Hindu newspaper reported that the documentary was also shown at some universities in the communist-ruled southern state of Kerala.
India’s Home Ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the government’s plans if the film was shown at JNU and in Kerala.
Violence erupted in Gujarat in 2002 after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59. Crowds later spread to Muslim neighborhoods. In 2017, 11 men were jailed for life for setting fire to a train.
Modi denied accusations that he had not done enough to stop the riots and was acquitted in 2012 after a Supreme Court investigation. Another petition questioning his acquittal was denied last year.
The BBC said last week that the documentary was “carefully researched” and included a wide range of voices and opinions, including responses from people in Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly, Shivam Patel and Rupam Jain); Additional reporting by Krishn Kaushik. Editing by Robert Purcell and Clarence Fernandez
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