India’s federal government is blocking Internet access to a new British documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C), multiple media outlets reported Saturday. File Photo courtesy of Prime Minister of India Press Office | License Photo
Jan. 21 (UPI) -- India's federal government is blocking Internet access to a controversial new British documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, multiple media outlets reported Saturday.
Links to the documentary on social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter no longer appeared or were inaccessible after being blocked by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, sources told the Press Trust of India and broadcaster NDTV.
The two-part BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question, focuses on the 2002 riots in the Indian state of Gujarat when Modi was chief minister. His government has denounced the effort as biased.
"We think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a media briefing earlier in the week. "The bias and the lack of objectivity and frankly continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible."
The documentary recounts Modi's political journey to become India's 14th prime minister, specifically looking at his role in the Gujarat riots.
More than 1,000 people were killed as members of the country's Muslim minority clashed with Hindu militants. The violence saw business and homes burned after a train filled with Hindu activists was set on fire by Muslim extremists.
Deploying the army did not immediately stem the tide of violence and the Indian parliament at the time was divided on any recourse following the incidents.
Modi at one point served as chief minister of the state of Gujarat as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The documentary points to a report from the British Foreign Office that previously went unpublished in which Modi is accused of being "directly responsible" for encouraging and perpetuating the violence.
Modi over the years has rejected claims that he held any responsibility. India's Supreme Court ruled in 2013 there was not sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution.
"The documentary series examines the tensions between India's Hindu majority and Muslim minority and explores the politics of Mr. Modi in relation to those tensions," the BBC said in response to the government's allegations of bias.
Calling it "rigorously researched," the broadcaster says it features "a wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we have featured a range of opinions, including responses from people in the BJP," referencing Modi's political party.