The BBC documentary titled India: The Modi Question, released in January 2023, is set to be screened at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra.
The two-part documentary, which focused on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was banned in India immediately after its release.
The screening will take place during Modi’s three-day trip to Australia, during which he will participate in a bilateral engagement with Australian PM Anthony Albanese, and meet with the business community there.
Modi is also scheduled to attend a mega community event along with PM Albanese.
The screening is being organised by diaspora organisations and human rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Australia and New Zealand chapters of Hindus for Human Rights, the Muslim Collective, The Periyar-Ambedkar Thought Circle-Australia, The Humanism Project, and The Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation.
Who Will Be Attending the Screening?
The screening in Australia will be followed by a discussion about the Gujarat riots and India, since Modi came to power in 2014. The speakers include Aakashi Bhatt, daughter of jailed Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has been critical of Modi, and Aakar Patel, former head of Amnesty International in India.
Australian senators David Shoebridge and Jordon Steele-John, both Australian Greens party members, will address the audience at the screening.
The two of them, and their deputy leader Mehreen Faruqi, have reached out to the Australian PM urging him to "raise concerns with Prime Minister Modi about ongoing human rights abuses which are contributing to the persecution of several minority groups."
A completely private enterprise, the screening will be set up in one of the spaces in the Australian Parliament which is offered for hire.
What's the Controversy?
India: The Modi Question is a two-part documentary series released by the BBC earlier this year. It primarily focuses on the 2002 Gujarat riots in which over a thousand people died, thousands were injured, and lakhs displaced.
Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time.
The documentary covers his political career, and also critically examines his alleged role in the religious violence that occurred at the time.
The documentary was banned in India, with the government ordering YouTube and other social media platforms to take it down. The Union Ministry of External Affairs called the documentary a 'propaganda piece', and maintained that it lacked objectivity and displayed a ‘colonial mindset’.
Screenings in universities across India were also banned.