The Assam Legislative Assembly passed a resolution against the BBC on Tuesday calling for strict action against the UK broadcaster over the alleged “malicious and dangerous” agenda against PM Modi propagated through the documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’.
The two-part documentary series investigates the accusations against PM Modi over “his attitude to the nation’s Muslim minority” and highlights allegations linked to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The resolution has been passed over 60 days since the release of the documentary series, and a month after searches at the BBC’s Mumbai office. It is also the third resolution against the BBC in the country after Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
The resolution was moved by BJP MLA Bhubon Pegu who alleged that the BBC series questioned India’s free press, judiciary and the legitimacy of its democratically elected government.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, defending the resolution, said, “When PM Modi is criticised by international media, we never oppose it. However, the BBC documentary is an attack on India’s judiciary. The issue here is all about the independence of the Indian judiciary. BBC wanted to challenge Indian judiciary and India.”
The resolution was passed as the Opposition walked out of the Assembly in protest. They had demanded a screening of the film in the House before any discussion on the resolution took place. CPI(M)’s Manoranjan Talukdar said, “The topic of this resolution does not relate to Assam. None of us has watched it.”
Himanta Sarma clapped back saying criticism of PM Modi and India’s judiciary by foreign media was a “challenge to India”.
“They unleashed the international conspiracy just as India assumed the presidency of G20. Like we stood against British imperialism, we need to stand up against foreign broadcasters for meddling with internal affairs of India,” Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
In January this year, the Centre, using emergency provisions under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the controversial documentary.
A month later, a four-member team of the Income Tax department visited the BBC’s office in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) after which they stated that the income and profits disclosed by the organisation’s units were “not commensurate with the scale of operations in India”.
The British government defended the BBC and its editorial freedom in Parliament after the “survey operations”.
“We stand up for the BBC. We fund the BBC. We think the BBC World Service is vital. We want the BBC to have that editorial freedom,” David Rutley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of the FCDO, said in February pointing to a “broad and deep relationship” with India, which meant the UK was able to discuss a wide range of issues in a “constructive manner”.