Four SFI members detained hours ahead of BBC Modi documentary screening at Jamia University

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The Delhi Police on Wednesday detained four members of the Students’ Federation of India hours before the group was to screen the BBC documentary about the 2002 Gujarat riots at the city’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, PTI reported.

The police claimed that the action was taken at the request of the chief proctor of the university, according to ANI.

#WATCH | Delhi Police detains protesters who were sloganeering outside Jamia Millia Islamia University. pic.twitter.com/bmDX4dp2Yl

— ANI (@ANI) January 25, 2023

The Students’ Federation of India called for a protest at 4 pm against the detention.

“In an atrocious manner, Azeez, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia and SFI Jamia Unit Secretary; Nivedya, a Jamia student and SFI South Delhi Area Vice President; Abhiram and Tejas, both Jamia students and SFI Unit members have been detained by the Delhi Police prior to the screening of the documentary,” the SFI said in a statement, according to PTI.

The student body had previously announced its plan to screen the documentary at the university at 6 pm. The university administration has said no permission has been sought for the screening of the documentary and that it will not be allowed.

“No meeting/gathering of students shall be allowed in any part of the campus including lawns and gates without prior permission of the competent authority, failing which strict disciplinary action shall be taken against the organisers,” the university said in a notice.

The University reiterates that no meeting of students or screening of any film will be allowed in the campus without permission. University is taking all measures to prevent people/orgs having vested interest to destroy peaceful academic atmosphere here: Jamia Millia Islamia pic.twitter.com/zWnkQwVSP1

— ANI (@ANI) January 25, 2023

The first episode of the BBC’s two-part documentary titled India: The Modi Question was released on January 17. It alleges that a team sent by the British government had found that Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat when the riots took place, was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence against Muslims.

While the documentary has not been made available in India, it has been uploaded on several YouTube channels and shared widely on Twitter.

On January 20, the Indian government had used emergency powers available under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to issue directions to YouTube and Twitter to block clips of the documentary from being shared. The foreign ministry has described the documentary as “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative”.

The attempt to screen the documentary at the Jamia Milia Islamia University comes a day after a similar event was organised at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

However, students of the university alleged that they were attacked with stones after a power and internet outage at the campus halted the screening. They claimed that power was intentionally cut off by the university administration to stop them from watching the documentary.

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