US Responds to Ban on BBC documentary on Modi

The United States has expressed support for the importance of a free press in India following the recent controversy surrounding the removal of a BBC documentary critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relationship with Indian Muslims, and his role as chief minister of Gujarat during sectarian violence in 2002.

At a press briefing, US state department spokesperson Ned Price said that the US generally supports freedom of expression and freedom of the press as human rights that contribute to the strengthening of democracies.

The Modi government had dismissed the film as “propaganda” and invoked emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 to remove the film and related posts from online platforms. The decision was heavily criticized by the Opposition. The US had previously refused to comment on the matter, instead highlighting the close relationship between the two countries, particularly over shared values.

Price said, “We support the importance of a free press around the world. We continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles, such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, as human rights that contribute to the strengthening of our democracies. This is a point we make in our relationships around the world. It’s certainly a point we’ve made in India as well.”

On the other hand, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responded to the BBC series saying, “We think this is a propaganda piece. This has no objectivity. This is biased. Do note that this hasn’t been screened in India. We don’t want to answer more on this so that this doesn’t get much dignity.”