US defends freedom of expression as govt bans BBC documentary critical of PM Modi

Ten News Network

New Delhi (India), 26th Jan 2023: The US has affirmed its support for freedom of expression in India, days after the Indian government ordered YouTube to take down copies of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At a press briefing, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the US supports the importance of a free press around the world and has made this point in its relationships with India.

The two-part documentary, titled India: The Modi Question, is critical of Prime Minister Modi’s relationship with Indian Muslims and his role as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, when sectarian violence left more than 1,000 people dead, mostly Muslims.

In response, the Modi government dismissed the film as “propaganda” reflecting a “colonial mindset.” The Information and Broadcasting ministry then invoked emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 to flag the versions of the film and about 50 tweets related to it.

The government’s decision to bar viewership of the documentary was heavily criticized by the opposition.

When asked about the BBC documentary on the Gujarat riots, Price said that the US-India relationship is rooted in shared values such as freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief, which are essential to strengthening democracies.

He also highlighted the close political and economic ties between the two countries, as well as the “exceptional people-to-people ties” that exist between them.

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