BBC Documentary: A Hit-job on India and its Prime Minister

With a lopsided propaganda documentary, BBC unceremoniously inserts itself into Indian politics.

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On January 17, 2023, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) released a propaganda film in the guise of a documentary titled, “India: The Modi Question” — a lopsided two-part series that peddles false propaganda about the 2002 Gujarat riots. It comes with a preconceived narrative and a script tailored to malign India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the Hindus of India as intolerant to Muslim minorities.

The said documentary was released just about a year before the 2024 general elections in India. It comes at a time when India has overtaken Britain, its former colonizer, to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. There is every reason to believe that BBC is acting on behalf of parties inimical to India’s interests by raising communal tempers to depose Mr. Modi and reinstate a more pliant political dynasty. Imperial Britain, of course, was a master at such games during its 200-year colonial rule of India.

This article analyses the contents of the documentary and the players involved. It also examines the motivation for producing this documentary and its timing.

Part 1 of the Documentary

The first part of the ‘documentary’ series deals with the thoroughly investigated and discredited accusations against India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, about the 2002 Gujarat riots.

By now, the facts of the incident are public records. The Gujarat riots occurred in the aftermath of an incident in which 59 Hindu religious volunteers were burnt alive by a mob of Islamic zealots. The incident began with an altercation between the Hindu volunteers and the Muslim tea vendors at the Godhra train station, following which the Muslim mob locked four train coaches from the outside and set them on fire by hurling petrol bombs into them, resulting in the horrible deaths of the Hindu passengers.

This resulted in spontaneous riots across the state of Gujarat, which were eventually quelled by pressing the army into service and the police firing on the rioters. The official death count from the riots was 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims[1]. Two-thirds of the nearly twenty-seven thousand people arrested after the riots were Hindus. Let it be noted that communal riots have occurred throughout independent India’s history, most of them under the Nehru dynasty, including the infamous Sikh pogroms of 1984.

The Supreme Court of India has cleared Mr. Modi of all the charges his political opponents have made against him, including his alleged complicity in the police inaction to “let the rioting communities settle their scores on the streets.” The Supreme Court appointed an extraordinary Special Investigative Team (SIT) to ensure that no stone was left unturned. Even though Mr. Modi’s political opponents were in power, the SIT was unable to unearth any evidence against Mr. Modi.

And yet Mr. Modi’s determined detractors would not quit.  As late as June 2022, the Supreme Court of India again trashed a petition to re-examine Mr. Modi’s role in the riots.  The honorable court admonished the petitioners for the conspiracy to target Mr. Modi and “keep the pot boiling.”[2]

Did Mr. Modi’s enemies turn to the BBC at that point? We obviously will never know.

What we do know is that the BBC’s verbal bomb, alleged to be a documentary, completely ignores these facts. It does not even mention the incident that triggered the riots, let alone the fact that Muslims were responsible. The statistics clearly show that it was not a one-sided pogrom, as the BBC ‘documentary’ would have us believe. However, that did not stop the Pakistan-born British member of Parliament from using the BBC documentary as a prop to label the 2002 events as a one-sided ethnic cleansing of Muslims. Big words, big lies.

For years, all the dozens of political parties opposed to the ruling BJP, cheered on by leftist media, have been running an unrelenting campaign to nail Mr. Modi and the current Home Minister, Mr. Amit Shah. The campaign has backfired badly.  Is the BBC enacting the next episode of this farce, or is there something more to it? Is the BBC sneering at India’s democracy because brown people can’t possibly run a democracy?

Part 2 of the Documentary

The second part deals with the agitations that followed the revocation of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Article 370 was a temporary provision added to India’s constitution in 1949 to facilitate a gradual integration of the state of Jammu & Kashmir with Indian society following its formal accession to India in 1947. Pakistan’s proxy attack on Maharaja Hari Singh’s kingdom had made it impossible to work out the details of his accession. Article 370 was designed to allow these details to be chalked out after the war ended. But succeeding generations of politicians were too scared to touch the Article for fear of igniting communal riots. Mr. Modi’s government, with characteristic political courage, managed to peacefully and constitutionally retire this “temporary” provision after seventy years of its incorporation. What should have happened in 1950 had to wait until 2019.

The Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 was another courageous and brilliant move to finally solve a problem created at independence. Following partition, massacres broke out in Pakistan, created specifically for Muslims, and in present-day Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Their goal was ethnic cleansing of the minority communities consisting of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Christians. The Nehru dynasty and its successors made empty promises to integrate the persecuted minorities in India. But it remained for Mr. Modi to act via the CAA, whose purpose was to normalize the status of the victims of persecution, not of the perpetrators, which is why citizenship was not offered to Muslims under this act.

A decisive majority of Indians welcomed the revocation of Article 370 and the implementation of the CAA.  However, a few vested interests used the opportunity to create unrest in the country by branding the two legislations, whose rationale had nothing to do with religion, anti-Muslim. Several well-coordinated and organized protests erupted all over India – facilitated and, in some instances, funded by political parties as well as organized syndicates believed to be aligned with international terrorist organizations. In many places, the protests turned violent, damaged public property, and caused loss of life. Five trains and three railway stations were torched, many buses were set ablaze, and several businesses, public buildings, and public transport vehicles, including a school bus carrying young children, were stoned.

The closest parallel to the CAA legislation is the Lautenberg Amendment in the United States, which facilitates asylum for religious minorities in the former Soviet Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Notably, the Lautenberg Amendment applies only to religious minorities and does not extend to the dominant religious community of Iran or the former Soviet Union.

Yet, in India’s case, that is precisely what the anti-CAA agitators were demanding, i.e., the inclusion of Muslims, the religious majority in the three offending countries, to be admissible as citizens of India under the CAA act.

BBC’s documentary blatantly labeled these well-planned violent demonstrations in the service of a political agenda as “civilian protests.” The producers did not have the journalistic integrity to ask whether perpetrators of ethnic cleansing should receive the same indulgence as their unfortunate victims. We wonder whether the BBC would have been so insensitive had the victims been white. The BBC never made a distinction between victims – non-Muslims by the perpetrators’ choice – and the Islamist mobs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who carried out the ethnic cleansing. Nor did the BBC ask why the perpetrators would seek refuge in the country where their victims had fled to. Was it to chase them even after they had found refuge? Why not go to one of the 50-plus Muslim theocratic countries? Apparently, the BBC was too scared of retaliatory Islamist jihad to utter a single word of condemnation against the cleansing or the cleansers.

The Cast of Characters

The documentary is based on statements of well-known Hindu- and India-phobic players like Arundhati Roy, Teesta Setalvad, Prashant Bhushan, and Harstosh Singh Bal, among others.

  • Arundhati Roy is a frustrated left-wing activist best known for valorizing India’s Marxist terrorist movement in her writings and railing against India’s introduction of unique identification cards, much like the social security number (SSN) in the US and the social insurance number (SIN) in Canada.
  • Teesta Setalwad, a journalist and social activist, has recently been charged with conspiracy to fabricate evidence to frame innocent people in connection with the 2002 riots. Currently on interim bail, Setalwad faces capital punishment if convicted.
  • Prashant Bhushan, a supreme court advocate, seems to have a soft corner for anti-India characters like ISIS ‘poster boy’ Mehmood Pracha.
  • Hartosh Singh Bal is a political journalist with animosity toward India’s current political regime. His 2020 interview on Al Jazira, a Qatari news outlet, is all the evidence one needs to know where his sympathies lie.

The documentary also features the then British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, claiming a report based on an “inquiry” and “investigation” commissioned under him accused Mr. Modi of complicity in the Gujarat riots.

The less said about Jack Straw, the better! As Tony Blair’s foreign secretary in 2003, Jack Straw is infamous for lying about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to legitimize the USA-led NATO invasion of Iraq. The Chilcot Report, which investigated the case, implicated Straw in fabricating records[3]. In 2015, he was branded a ‘liar’ in the UK’s House of Commons.

Indian Government’s Response

India’s External Affairs Ministry has criticized the documentary as a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative, noting that “The bias, the lack of objectivity, and frankly a continuing colonial mindset is blatantly visible. If anything, the film or documentary reflects on the agency and individuals peddling this narrative again.”

The Indian Government chose to ban the documentary from being screened in India, calling it detrimental to the national interest. They also invoked the emergency powers under the IT Rules 2021 to direct YouTube and Twitter to take down all copies of the documentary and Twitter links to it. It was a signal to foreign entities like the BBC that shameless peddling of disproven lies to interfere in the national elections would not be tolerated. But this rationale was never explained to the world. Anglo-American media may have censored the rationale in any case, but that’s a story for another day.

The unfortunate side-effect of this strong signal was to amplify the so-called documentary’s notoriety. The unexplained decision may have backfired since it gave this propaganda piece undeserved credibility and enticed even otherwise uninterested people to watch it. On the other hand, foreign enemies of India’s democracy and agents of election subversion have been warned.

BBC’s Huge Credibility Deficit

BBC’s charter as an “independent, impartial and honest” purveyor of news seems like a bad joke when one considers that it was established in 1922 as the mouthpiece of the Imperial Government. Its primary function during WW-2 was to conceal the ground realities of the war from the raging freedom movement in India and the two-million Indians fighting in Europe for the British side. The bluff would have endured if George Orwell, the celebrated author of Animal Farm and 1984, had not pulled the curtain from it.[4]

Contrary to BBC’s claim of impartiality, no less a figure than UK’s late prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, often complained of its left-wing bias. Indeed, the Conservative MP Peter Bruinvels[5] called BBC the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation”.  

Peter Oborne, in his Daily Telegraph blog[6] in 2011, wrote, “Rather than representing the nation as a whole, it [the BBC] has become a vital resource – and sometimes attack weapon – for a narrow, arrogant Left-Liberal elite.”

BBC’s visceral hatred for India and Hindus is an established fact, as is its intensely pro-Islamic posture.[7] Be it the coverage of the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971[8] or Khalistani terrorism[9] or the 2008 Pakistani terrorist attack on Mumbai[10], or the recent Leicester riots, BBC has been reliably anti-India, and willing to manufacture evidence when required to support the desired storyline:

 ”As part of its policy to keep India on the defensive, BBC was trying its best to defame Indian security forces in the (Kashmir) valley. Visuals of heavily armed soldiers driving through deserted city streets were shown to reinforce the argument of the Indian Armed Forces’ repression of the Kashmiri people. Later, some sharp viewers pointed out that the pictures were taken from the conflict in Chechnya and passed off as those from Kashmir.”[11]

Don Maclean, the former host of BBC’s Good Morning Sunday, is on record for noting that ‘They’re keen on Islam, they’re keen on programs that attack the Christian church.’[12]

None of this sounds like a resounding endorsement of BBC’s credibility as an “independent,” “impartial,” or “honest” purveyor of news!

BBC’s Motivation

UK today faces an energy crisis, with customers forced to cut their energy usage. Economists also say that the UK and the other G7 countries are staring at a prolonged recession. Then there is the endless ‘drame royale’ featuring brothers Harry and William constantly airing their dirty laundry in public. With all this going on, BBC curiously chose to make a documentary on a twenty-plus-year-old incident that has been vigorously litigated and thoroughly settled – multiple times – by India’s highest court.

What could lie behind such a bizarre action? We offer some plausible explanations here:

  • The BBC is part of an international cabal dedicated to defeating Mr. Modi in the 2024 national elections. Another powerful stakeholder in this cabal is amoral (by his own admission) billionaire George Soros.  These people live in a self-imposed nightmare that India might turn fascist – a scenario based purely on prejudice and ignorance.
  • India’s rapid growth as a global player under prime minister Modi’s leadership is a shock for old-timers in the West like the BBC. They cannot stomach the fact that in just four decades after facing default under the Nehru dynasty, India has managed to overtake its erstwhile colonial master and is now the world’s fifth-largest economy. They are also smarting from India’s unabashedly independent foreign policy, for example, regarding oil imports from Russia during the Ukraine-Russia war. The old-timers in Britain would like nothing better than to teach India a lesson, and their favorite trick is to manipulate historical religious fault lines. There is no one better at that game than Britain with its old faithful ‘divide and rule’ strategy.
  • UK’s internal politics is another crucial factor to consider. The Muslim population is a significant vote bank for Britain’s Labour Party, and especially for Jack Straw, whose constituency is more than 30% Muslim. Labelling Modi as Hindu fascist and Hindus as bigoted tormentors of Muslims helps Straw and his party ingratiate themselves with the Muslim voters. The resulting embarrassment for the ruling Conservative party and its overtly Hindu prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is a bonus for the Labourites.
  • BBC is facing a financial crunch so bad that its chairman has admitted to BBC World Service’s future being in jeopardy. Meanwhile, one of its little-known commercial divisions, Storyworks, has been producing content for Chinese state-owned media, including ad campaigns for the state-run propaganda channel.[13] Storyworks contributed $360 million to BBC ad revenue last year. How much of it came from China was not revealed.

It is not hard to imagine China, India’s arch-rival, exerting influence on the production and timing of BBC’s propaganda documentary. The role of India’s opposition parties, some of which have deep ties with China, also cannot be ruled out.

Of course, BBC, with its deep-seated hatred for all things Indian and Hindu, does not need much encouragement to grab opportunities to malign India and its socio-political structure.

Summing up…

India’s resurgence as a prosperous and self-confident nation is seen as a threat to Western hegemony. India’s neighbor to the North, China, is watching its global influence slowly whittle away as India’s influence is rising. Then there are the political opposition parties in India, out of power for nearly a decade, willing to do anything to claw back to power. To top it all, we have BBC, a perennial India-hater cash-strapped news outlet, ready to sell out to the highest bidder.

It should, therefore, surprise no one that a propaganda piece like the BBC documentary gets produced and released at this point. It is but a small part of a much larger global initiative by anti-Hindu anti-India forces to destabilize and eventually balkanize India. Indeed, as the 2024 election cycle heats up in India, we should expect many more and far more vicious attacks on the Hindu ecosystem.


  1. Gujarat Riots Myth 1 – 2,000 Muslim were killed in the Gujarat riots | Sanskriti – Hinduism and Indian Culture Website (
  2. India Supreme Court dismisses allegations of ‘larger conspiracy’ by senior officials concerning 2002 state riots – JURIST – News
  3. Pack of lies: BBC’s hitjob on PM Modi relies on Jack Straw’s words, but he’s known to have been a liar (
  4. BBC’s Foundational History as Imperial Propaganda Service — Explore and Expose Hindudvesha
  5. Criticism of the BBC – Wikipedia
  6. Coming to the BBC, an everyday story of bias and falling standards – Telegraph Blogs (
  7. BBC’s Anti-India/Anti-Hindu and Pro-Islamic Bias is an Established Fact — Explore and Expose Hindudvesha
  8. BBC ON THIS DAY | 3 | 1971: Pakistan intensifies air raids on India
  9. Thatcher chastised BBC for Sikh extremist’s anti-Indira comments | Latest News India – Hindustan Times
  10. BBC News changes its description of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack > CAMERA UK (
  11. BBC’s undisguised anti-India bias: From the Leslee Udwin documentary on Nirbhaya to Top Gear and more (
  12. The BBC supports Islam and attacks Christianity (
  13. BBC StoryWorks Producing Adverts For China’s State Media & Huawei – Deadline

Gayatri N. is a freelance writer. She writes extensively on Indic issues

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