BBC Documentary Row: JNU Students Hold March, Allege ABVP Behind Stone Pelting; Complaint Filed

New Delhi: Hundreds of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students held a march towards Vasant Kunj Police Station late on Tuesday night claiming that ABVP activists pelted stones during the screening of the banned BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. JNU Students Union President (JNUSU) Aishe Ghosh told the police that Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) workers pelted stones during the screening of the documentary and accused the JNU administration of taking no action against them. “ABVP pelted stones, but no step by the administration yet. We almost completed the film`s screening. Our priority is that electricity should be restored,” Ghosh told the news agency ANI.

“We have also filed a complaint, and police assured us they’ll be immediately looking into the incident. We gave the name & details of all the persons involved. As of now, we’re calling off the protest. We’ll also file a complaint at JNU Proctor office,” the JNUSU president said further.

However, the ABVP – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated student body –  hit back, saying they did not pelt stones on the JNUSU students during the screening of the controversial documentary. “Do these people hurling allegations have any evidence that we pelted stones? We did not pelt stones at all,” JNU student from the ABVP Gaurav Kumar told ANI. 

Row Over BBC Documentary on PM Modi

A group of students, who gathered at the JNU students’ union office for a screening of a controversial BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, claimed the varsity administration cut power and internet to stop the event, and staged a protest after stones were thrown on them. They also claimed that they were attacked when they were watching the documentary on their mobile-phones as the screening could not be held. Some alleged that the attackers were members of the ABVP.

Later in the night, raising slogans of “Inqlaab Zinadabad” against the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration, the protesting students held march to the Vasant Kunj police station and lodged a complaint against the “stone pelters”.

Power Cut in JNU

On the allegations of a power cut at the campus, a JNU administration official, requesting anonymity told PTI, “There is a major (power) line fault at the university. We are looking into it. The engineering department is saying it will be resolved at the earliest.” However, there was no immediate official response from the JNU administration to the allegations and claims of the students. It had on Monday in an advisory said that the union had not taken its permission for the event and it should be cancelled, warning of strict disciplinary action.

The JNUSU) had earlier in the day issued a statement in which it said that there is no intention to create any form of disharmony through the screening of the documentary or movie. It also sought clarification from the administration regarding rules which mandate that prior permission is required for screening of any film or documentary on the university premises.

The ABVP denied the allegation, saying they were not present on the spot. “We did not go to the spot and no one from us (the students’ body) was there. They are just taking our names to get more coverage,” ABVP Delhi media convenor Ambuj told PTI.

JNU Advisory Over BBC Modi Documentary Screening

The JNU administration, in an advisory on Monday, had said that the union had not taken its permission for the event and it should be cancelled as it could ‘disturb peace and harmony.’ The university in an advisory on Monday had said, “It has come to the notice of the administration that a group of students has in the name of the JNUSU released a pamphlet for screening a documentary or movie (titled) “India: The Modi Question” scheduled for 24 January 2023, at 9:00 pm in Teflas.”

The two-part BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” claims it investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Modi was the chief minister of the state. The documentary has not been screened in India.

The government had on Friday directed social media platforms Twitter and YouTube to block links to the documentary titled “India: The Modi Question”. The Ministry of External Affairs has trashed the documentary as a “propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset. However, opposition parties have slammed the government’s move to block access to the documentary. 

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