BBC documentary row: 'Power outage', ‘azadi’ slogans at Presidency University | Kolkata - Hindustan Times

BBC documentary screening: 'Power outage', ‘azadi’ slogans at Kolkata's Presidency University

By, New Delhi
Jan 28, 2023 09:25 AM IST

According to SFI members, the power outage at Presidency University was an attempt by the university authorities to stop the screening of the documentary series.

The College Street campus of Presidency University in Kolkata witnessed high drama and chaos on Friday evening after there was a power outage for some time during the screening of the controversial BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots. The screening of 'India: The Modi Question' was organised by the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI-M, a day after it hosted a similar show via a projector at the Jadavpur University campus in Kolkata, reported news agency PTI.

Members of SFI raised slogans at Presidency University in Kolkata on Friday evening, (ANI)
Members of SFI raised slogans at Presidency University in Kolkata on Friday evening, (ANI)

Over 50 of the university's students watched the controversial film at the time, it added.

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However, the Left-backed students' body said there was a sudden power cut during the screening, which they claimed was an attempt by the university authorities to stop the broadcast of the two-part documentary series, that allegedly questions Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister during the 2002 riots.

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According to SFI members, the power outage was an attempt by the university authorities to stop the screening of the documentary series.

"We protested on campus against the (varsity) authorities as they intentionally disrupted the screening," news agency ANI quoted Anandarupa Dhar, an SFI member, as saying.

"We made all necessary arrangements for the screening. We urged all students to join us in large numbers at the common room for the screening," she added.

The SFI said the venue was shifted from the sprawling badminton court to the students' common room. The screening began at 4.30pm but there was another power cut at around 5.30pm and a number of students took out a protest march on the campus. They shouted slogans like "Halla Bol" and “We want azadi from communalism, hatred, dictatorship”. The power supply was restored at the university common room around 6pm and the screening resumed.

On Thursday, more than 100 students watched the documentary at Jadavpur University and the SFI said neither the police nor the institute authorities interfered with the screening.

Last week, the Centre has recently issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the documentary. The Centre has also ordered YouTube to take down copies of the document. The government called it a "propaganda piece designed to push a discredited narrative".

On Friday, in the national capital, police were called to the Delhi University campus to maintain law and order after "outsiders" tried to screen a controversial BBC documentary at the arts faculty, registrar Vikas Gupta said after several students were detained.

This comes days after a similar ruckus at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia over the screening of the documentary.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said 24 students were detained from the DU's Arts Faculty and the situation is now back to normal.

In a similar incident, chaos erupted on JNU campus after JNUSU members alleged a “deliberate” power outage during a screening of BBC series recently.

On Wednesday, 13 students were detained for creating a ruckus outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University over the screening of the BBC series.

The Delhi Police issued a statement on the incident, saying that the university administration did not allow the screening of the documentary on campus.

(With inputs from agencies)

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