Madurai city police arrests BJP cadres for stopping screening of BBC documentary on Gujarat riots and Modi

Seven BJP members including Madurai district west unit president were arrested for creating a ruckus during the screening.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Feb 13, 2023 | 1:26 PMUpdatedFeb 13, 2023 | 1:26 PM

BJP members arrested in Madurai

BJP members who tried to stop a screening of the Tamil-dubbed version of the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat riots of 2002, were arrested by the Madurai city police late on Sunday, 12 February.

According to the police, cadres of the CPI and CPI(M) cadres permission to screen the Tamil version of the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question‘ on Sunday at an indoor hall in Meenakshi Nagar near Villapuram in the city.

When the documentary was being shown, a group of BJP workers, led by Madurai district west unit president Sasikumar, laid seized to the venue and demanded the screening be stopped.

The BJP cadres, who were initially involved in an verbal altercation with the Communist leaders, contended that the screening should be stopped as the documentary was banned. A ruckus between both groups followed.

There is no official ban on the BBC documentary, although the BJP-ruled Union government has made several attempts to block its availability on social media and YouTube.

Students across campuses, especially in the South, have defied the Centre by organising several screenings.

Related: BBC documentary on PM Narendra Modi dubbed in Tamil

FIR against seven people

Sasikumar admitted in hospital. (Supplied)

Upon receiving information about the clash, the Avaniyapuram police rushed to the spot and tried to pacify both parties, which resulted in a commotion by the BJP members. Later, the police detained the BJP workers, including the district president.

Meanwhile, district president Sasikumar was admitted to a private hospital after complaining of chest pain, while he was being taken to the police station, after the arrest.

The police registered an FIR against the seven BJP members, including Sasikumar and mandal secretary Karuppiah, for disturbing public tranquillity and for trespassing on private property.

On hearing of the arrests, another group of BJP workers, led by its Media Cell head Kalidhas, protested in front of the Avaniyapuram police station and demanded their release.

Later, the detained BJP workers were let off on station bail.

Related: SC directs to produce records of decision to block BBC documentary 

Screenings held across country

However, various political parties and student groups have organised screenings of the documentary Modi: The India Question in various places, including public spaces and campuses.

On 27 January, the CPI(M) state unit leader Balakrishnan in a statement stated that the Communist party would screen the BBC documentary statewide and hold interactions with the viewers.

The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi also dubbed the BBC documentary in Tamil and screened it in various parts of the state on 5 February.

VCK leader and Lok Sabha member Thol Thirumavalavan initiated the process of translating the BBC documentary into Tamil and screened it at an event held at Ambedkar Thidal, the party’s headquarters, in Chennai.

While there is no official order for a ban on the BBC documentary, the Union government has consistently blocked links streaming the BBC documentary that covers the 2002 Gujarat riots and its aftermath, and the rise of Prime Minister Modi.

Related: HCU, EFLU students screen BBC documentary

The second part of the documentary covers the anti-CAA-NRC protests, the Delhi riots, and the assault on students of JNU during the anti-CAA protests.

Earlier, the Congress party, on 26 January, held a public screening of the documentary at the Shangumugham beach in the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. Students groups widely screened the documentary across Kerala.

The documentary was screened twice on the University of Hyderabad (HCU) campus — on 21 and 26 January — and on the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) Hyderabad campus on 26 January.

On 1 February, students belonging to the students’ wing of BRS were detained by police for allegedly planning to screen the controversial documentary inside the Osmania University Campus in Hyderabad, “without permission”.