New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday issued summons to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on a defamation suit filed by an NGO claiming that its documentary cast a slur on the reputation of India, its judiciary and Modi.
Besides the BBC (UK), Justice Sachin Datta also issued notice to the BBC (India) seeking its response on the suit filed by Gujarat-based NGO Justice for Trial, news agency IANS reported.
The plea said BBC (India) is the local operation office and BBC (UK) has released the documentary — “India: The Modi Question” — which has two episodes.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the NGO, said the suit for defamation against the BBC is in relation to the documentary which has “defamed” India and the whole system including the judiciary.
He contended that the documentary also makes insinuations against the prime minister, the report said.
It was argued on behalf of the plaintiff that the documentary makes defamatory imputation and cast slur on the reputation of the country.
The high court said, “Issue notice to the respondents through all permissible modes” and listed it for further hearing on September 15.
In a documentary released by the British Broadcasting Corporation, it has been claimed that a team sent by the British government to investigate the 2002 violence in Gujarat found Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of the state, “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence.
The documentary titled “India: The Modi Question”, was, however, pulled down from YouTube on Wednesday, a day after its release.
The British inquiry team alleged that Modi had prevented the Gujarat Police from acting to stop violence targeted at Muslims, the BBC documentary claimed.
Speaking to the BBC, former foreign secretary, Jack Straw (2001-2006) said he was personally involved in the investigations as the data and results provided were alarming.
“I was very worried about it. I took a great deal of personal interest because India is an important country with whom we (the UK) have relations. And so, we had to handle it very carefully,” Straw told the BBC, adding, “What we did was establish an inquiry and have a team go to Gujarat and find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very thorough report.”
A former British diplomat, who remains anonymous described the whole event as a pogrom. To our readers, a pogrom is a term used when there is an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group. In this case, it was the Muslims, the former diplomat said.
“At least 2000 people were murdered during the violence where the vast majority were Muslims. We described it as a pogrom– a deliberate, and politically driven effort targeted at the Muslim community,” the former diplomat told the BBC.
Pertinently, on 28 February 2002, Hindu mobs who were part of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unleashed massive violence against Muslims in Gujarat that went on for weeks killing thousands of Muslims.
About 3,000 Muslims were killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship were destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people displaced.