BBC documentary row reaches JNU; Administration bars screening  

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By: Alok Singh
Updated: 24 January, 2023 11:28 am IST

The British Broadcast Corporation’s controversial documentary on PM Narendra Modi has reached the corridors of one of India’s premier institutions of higher education — the notoriously left-leaning Jawaharlal Nehru University. Without seeking the administration’s permission on Monday JNUSU (JNU Students’ Union) released a pamphlet inviting everyone to attend the screening of the documentary, which has not been made available in India by the BBC for viewing, and its illegal online downloads on social media platforms have been blocked by the Indian government.

Defying the government’s notification, JNUSU which consists of mostly left-leaning students decided to conduct the screening at 9 pm inside the campus in Teflas on January 24.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has come down heavily on this development saying if those involved in the release of the pamphlet did not refrain from screening, which might disturb peace and harmony on the campus, they will face strict disciplinary action.

“It has come to the notice of the administration that a group of students has in the name of JNUSU released a pamphlet for screening a documentary/movie “India: The Modi Question” scheduled for 24th January 2023 at 9:00 p.m. in Teflas. No prior permission for this event has been taken from the JNU Administration. This is to emphasize that such an unauthorized activity may disturb the peace and harmony of the University Campus,” said the statement.

“The concerned students/individuals are firmly advised to cancel the proposed programme immediately failing which strict disciplinary action may be initiated as per the University rules,” it said.

Meanwhile an advocate from the Supreme Court of India, Vineet Jindal, also filed a complaint at Vasant Kunj (North) Police Station against the JNUSU.

In the complaint, he said: “It has to be noted here that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos of the first episode of BBC World’s hateful propaganda in India: The Modi Question” and YouTube has been instructed to block the video if it is uploaded again. While Twitter has been directed to block tweets linking videos on other platforms.”

Jindal also said the sole purpose of making this hateful documentary is to create disharmony in India and to disgrace the duly elected government. ” Any person who is organizing the screening of this documentary is also having the intent to divide people of our country on the ground of religion and spread hatred in our country which can not be allowed,” his complaint read.

Going by the track record of JUNSU, the lawyer-activist said that the student union might disobey the administration’s advisory. He urged the police to issue preventive orders to stall any such plan. “Although the JNU administration issued an advisory to cancel the scheduled screening as no permission has been granted by them for the scheduled screening of the controversial and hateful documentary the organizers are having a past record of not obeying JNU administration advisory and creating unrest in JNU Camps which also impact and create disharmony in all over India, hence by this complaint I have requesting you to issue appropriate orders or preventive action to stop scheduled screening and take appropriate legal action against the organizers of the event,” it added.

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