Two days after Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University abruptly cut off power and electricity to its campus to prevent students from showing a controversial BBC series about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, students from two other top universities in the capital National capitals – Delhi University and Ambedkar University – have faced similar treatment from university administrators and police. Mass gatherings have been banned outside DU’s Faculty of Arts, where a screening was scheduled, and authorities cut off power in Ambedkar University to prevent another screening from being scheduled. . A group of students raised slogans and protested at both universities, some of whom were detained by the police.
As the days passed, many students gathered at the Art department of Delhi University to protest the application of Section 144 in the region to stop screenings. By evening, a huge crowd could be seen clashing with police and university security guards. They held up slogans “Delhi police back” and accused the police of handling protesters.
24 students were previously detained for trying to show the documentary in DU, a senior police official confirmed.
Like at JNU, the students here also had to watch it on their phones and laptops after a QR code with a link to the documentary was spread among them. However, many students showed up later, claiming they would hold a public screening.
Sources in the Delhi University government have said that mass screening or public screening will not be allowed on campus. However, if students want to watch it on their phones, that is their decision.
Police sources said universities had not authorized such screening and Delhi Police had also been contacted. Sources said talks had been held earlier to convince students to withdraw their call for screening, adding that police would be heavily deployed for security and action reasons. will be done if students gather for screening.
Superintendent Rajni Abbi of Delhi University said she has written to Delhi Police about the matter and they will take action.
“We cannot allow the BBC documentary to be shown, as there is no permission from the authorities,” she told PTI news agency.
Meanwhile, Jamia Millia Islamia suspended classes on Friday at the request of students and faculty, just a day after vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar said the university “completely blocked” the attempt to organize screening function of some students. On Wednesday, 13 university students were detained for causing riots while holding a movie screening inside the campus. Delhi police said the university administration did not allow the inspection.
“India: Question about Modi”, the BBC documentary series that sparked a political conflict in India, has been banned by the Center from using emergency orders under Section 16 of the IT Rules, 2021.
Orders were issued to social media intermediaries to block content, but not to any individuals. If individuals show the documentary, they cannot be legally penalized for it.
Earlier this week, student groups at Central Hyderabad University (HCU) – the Student Islamic Organization (SIO) and the Muslim Student Federation known as the Brotherhood – organized a screening of the documentary film. materials on campus on Monday. More than 50 students from these groups attended the screening. It was replayed on campus on Thursday, this time by leftist student group SFI.
The remaining West Bengal students have also planned to screen the documentary on the campuses of at least two universities in Kolkata.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) screened the documentary at Jadavpur University on Thursday without interference from the authorities, and will screen at Presidency College on Friday, the institution’s assistant secretary Subhajit Sarkar state said. The All India Students Association (AISA), another Leftist body, also decided to screen the documentary on the campus of Jadavpur University on Friday.
The Congressional Unit in Kerala on Thursday screened the documentary in Thiruvananthapuram, while the student and youth wing of the ruling CPI(M) planned to screen the film statewide.
The NSUI Congress student wing also screened the documentary in Chandigarh.
The US has described the ban as a press freedom issue. The US State Department said it was time to emphasize the importance of democratic principles such as freedom of speech and bring the issue to the fore around the world as well as in India.
Last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi and distanced himself from the BBC documentary series, saying he “disagrees with the characterization” of his Indian counterpart.
The Foreign Office (MEA) responded to the BBC’s series by claiming it was completely biased, even raising questions about “the purpose of the exercise and the agenda behind it.”