Delhi Police detains four Jamia students over screening of BBC documentary

Scenes outside Jamia Milia Islamia | Photo: Ubair ul Hameed

The Jamia Millia Islamia administration has prohibited any screening of the film in the campus without permission.

Arbab Ali | 

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NEW DELHI — The Delhi Police on Wednesday detained four students from a left-wing student organisation outside the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University in the national capital, over screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The detained students have been identified as Azeez, Nivedya, Abhiram, and Tejas.

The students belonged to Student’s Federation of India’s (SFI) Jamia unit. The police action derailed the plans by the student body to screen the contentious BBC documentary series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia campus. 

ANI reported that the action was initiated on the request of the Chief Proctor of the University, after the students had announced the screening of the documentary on the campus at 6 pm.

The BBC documentary explores Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in 2002 Gujarat riots. It charts his ascent through the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ranks and his selection as Gujarat’s chief minister. 

A distress call poster is doing rounds on social media, alleging that SFI Jamia unit officers were detained in order to halt the documentary’s screening. Additionally, the poster urged the student community to participate in the demonstration outside Gate Number 7 of the varsity at 4 p.m. today.

Security personnel outside Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi | Photo: Ubair ul Hameed

The Jamia administration earlier refused to give permission for the screening, which India has barred from online sharing. The administration said disciplinary action will be taken if the documentary was screened.

“No meeting/gathering of students shall be allowed in any part of the campus including lawns and gates without prior permission of the competent authority, failing which strict disciplinary action shall be taken against the organisers,” the Jamia proctorial office stated in a notice it issued on January 24.

The student wing of the BJP, ABVP, battled with left-leaning student organisations last evening after a similar documentary screening at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The university witnessed ugly scenes with students alleging they were attacked with stones while watching the documentary on their mobile phones as the screening was not allowed by the university administration.

Students claimed that the university management disconnected the electricity and internet to halt the event and that stones were thrown. 

A student organisation at Hyderabad University showed the documentary earlier in the day. The administration of the university has requested a report on the issue from its staff. 

According to reports, the government requested last week that Twitter and YouTube take down the contentious BBC series on PM Modi, which purports to have looked into some aspects of the 2002 Gujarat riots while the latter was the state’s chief minister.

The Centre sharply criticised the BBC, calling the documentary a “propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative”. The foreign ministry claimed that “the bias and lack of objectivity and frankly continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible.”

Arbab Ali is a fellow at TCN-SEED mentorship program.