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Bangladesh not sure to what end Indo-Bangladesh friendship is leading under Mr Modi's anti-Muslim stance

06 February 2023 Editorial Desk
Bangladesh not sure to what end Indo-Bangladesh friendship is leading under Mr Modi's anti-Muslim stance

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been exposed, the kind of politician he is and the ideology he nurtures in what is called the 'largest democracy' in the world. It is not that the people who follow him from inside and outside India do not know the fascist nature of his 'Hindutva' politics that has sharply polarized Indian society.

But why the BBC decided to show its two-part documentary series "India: The Modi Question" at this point of time is a surprise. The documentary's first part showed with indelible proofs of interviews, video clips and camera shots the extent to which Modi could go to advance his politics of hate against Muslims during the Gujarat pogrom in 2002 when he was the state's chief minister.

Indian government's official records put the tally of deaths around 600 in the orgy of killing of Muslim men, women and children the most heartless way, but the documentary claims around 3000 people were killed as the frenzied Hindu mobs massacred them, raping their women calling it an attempt of 'ethnic cleansing'.

The documentary found then Chief Minister Narendra Modi was 'directly responsible' for the massacre as he prevented the police as well as army from taking any action for three days of massacre that was perpetrated with the false allegation that the Muslims were behind the Godhra train fire that killed 59 Hindu pilgrims.

The BBC documentary aptly presented that, by not stopping the pogrom, Modi as chief minister actively participated in it for which he won the heart of the state's Hindu population, but earned the epithet the 'butcher of Gujarat' without a care. India was exposed as the most communal country. As a reaction to Modi's controversial role, the USA banned him from visiting America, but lifted that sanction when he became the prime minister of India. But his ability to be the leader of the region has remained clouded. He has lost trust of his neighbouring countries. Hate for others' religion is a great impediment to win the trust of the strongly religious-minded people of this region. It cannot make a leader great.

However, the promptness with which the Indian government banned airing of the documentary in India calling it a 'propaganda piece' reflecting the BBC's colonial mindset, itself explains why the Modi government is disturbed by the documentary. It reflected on his image. The truth was revealed with so much evidence of a documentary that there was nothing to contradict. Before airing the video, the BBC urged the Indian government to have its comment on the content which it declined.

 Soon after the ban of the documentary, angry reactions have come from journalists, activists, teachers, students and opposition parties in India. The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Hyderabad Central University defied the ban and arranged public screenings of the documentary, and at the JNU, the authorities cut off the electricity line to disrupt the show. Students even clashed with college authorities and the police in several campuses after not being allowed to hold screenings.

 The ban has also been challenged in the court. Veteran journalist N Ram, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra went to court asking that the Centre be stopped from censoring the documentary with petitions challenging Modi government's use of emergency powers to block it and remove links from social media. Yet another lawyer ML Sharma called the ban on the two-part documentary "malafide, arbitrary, and unconstitutional."

 The spontaneous protests in India against suppressing the BBC documentary is encouraging in that the Indian people are overwhelmingly anti-communal, yet some extremists are communal in a beastly manner. Indian intelligentsia does not compromise on their freedom of expression in order to ensure accountability of their leaders. Here is hope.
 Bangladesh wants genuine friendship with India but its people are not sure to what end anti-Muslim Prime Minister Modi uses this friendship with Bangladesh.

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