Jamia Millia Islamia disallows screening BBC film on PM Modi, several students detained

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Scenes outside Jamia Milia Islamia | Photo: Ubair ul Hameed/MM

By Ubair ul Hameed

The screening of the controversial BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi this evening resulted in the police detaining more than a dozen students and the suspension of classes  at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia on Wednesday.

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The screening of “India: The Modi Question,” scheduled for 6 o’clock, pm  was canceled due to a significant police presence outside the institute.

Since morning on January 25, Police in blue riot gear and vans armed with tear gas cannons arrived at the college’s gates in southeast Delhi. In the afternoon gates of the university were closed and students were stopped from entering the campus. Canteens in the University were also closed. Furthermore, students alleged that they were not allowed to move in groups of three or more inside the campus.

Police personnel outside Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi | Photo: Ubair ul Hameed/MM

Protesting students told Muslim Mirror that the Jamia administration didn’t want to screen the film as it was afraid of the ruling dispensation.

“Everything is known about the 2002 riots, there’s nothing new to be told, what’s the government trying to hide?,” said a protesting student.

“The film was screened at Hyderabad Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, why don’t they allow it here? They are just afraid of the administration,” said another student.

The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) at Jamia was screening the film at 6 o’clock. Following a crackdown by the university administration and the police that resulted in the detention of some of their members, the leftist students’ group later cancelled plans to screen the film.

Earlier, the varsity had issued a statement denying permission to screen any film on campus and threatening disciplinary action against the organisers.

“No meeting/gathering of students or screening of any film shall be allowed in the campus without the permission of the competent authority, failing which strict disciplinary action shall be taken against the organisers. The university is taking all possible measures to prevent people/organisations having vested interest to destroy the peaceful academic atmosphere of the university,” the university said in a statement.

Vice Chancellor of the University, Najma Akhtar said that the administration will take action against students, if necessary, for disrupting the peace on campus.

“SFI wants to disturb the peace on campus; will never allow this behaviour,” said Jamia VC Najma Akhtar the documentary screening.

Earlier, on January 24, students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) alleged that stones were pelted at them and electricity was cut off on campus at the location where the university’s students’ union (JNUSU) had scheduled a screening of the documentary.

Last Friday, the government issued orders to Twitter and YouTube to block all links to the documentary. It was referred to as a “propaganda piece” by the Ministry of External Affairs.

The documentary is centred on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and the state government’s response to the riots in Gujarat in 2002.

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