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Screening of propaganda BBC documentary in JNU campus halted due to power cut, Leftist student body claims stone pelting

"There is a major power line fault at the university. We are looking into it. The engineering department is saying it will be resolved at the earliest,” the JNU administration told PTI.

The controversy around the screening of a propaganda BBC documentary on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus has heated up as the JNU administration allegedly cut power and internet connections at the student union’s office to stop the screening. On Tuesday, January 25, some students gathered to watch BBC’s controversial docuseries on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Later, the Leftist student body claimed that after the power supply was cut, stones were pelted at them by the members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). 

The students claimed that stones were hurled at them when they were watching the documentary on their mobile phones as the screening could not be held. ABVP on the other hand has refuted the accusations. Moreover, a senior police officer stated that no such incident was reported to the police.

JUNSU President Aishe Gosh claimed, “ABVP pelted stones, but no step by admin yet. We almost completed the film’s screening. Our priority is that electricity should be restored. We’ll file FIR.”

The ABVP has denied Ghosh’s allegations.

“We did not visit the location, and nobody from ABVP was present there. They simply use our names to gain more attention “Ambuj, the ABVP Delhi media convener, told PTI.

While the protesting students claimed that the power supply was halted to stop the screening, quoting a JNU administration official, PTI reported that there was a major power line fault that was being fixed. “There is a major power line fault at the university. We are looking into it. The engineering department is saying it will be resolved at the earliest,” the JNU administration told PTI. 

The university administration has not yet issued a formal statement regarding the allegations made by the students. However, it had issued a warning on Monday advising students to cancel the screening since the students’ union had not sought permission for it. In the advisory JNU administration had stated that “such an unauthorized activity may disturb peace & harmony in the University.”.

Earlier, in a statement, ABVP had stated that controversy is deliberately being crafted in order to tarnish India’s image as it has assumed the presidency of G20. The student body alleged that the opposition parties along with some student groups want to create a state of confusion using the BBC documentary. “After two days, when the entire nation will celebrate Republic Day, India will hold the G20 presidency. How can leftist organizations that spread misinformation maintain composure when India is experiencing so many good things? They are using deception in this instance to further the goals of the colonialist British in the nation,” ABVP said in a statement issued on January 24.

ABVP statement dated 24 January on screening of BBC documentary at JNU campus (Image tweeted by @ABVPVoice)

Earlier, Student Islamic Organisation (SIO) & Muslim Student Federation known as the Fraternity group at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) had organized a screening of the BBC documentary inside the campus on Monday. More than 50 students from these groups attended the screening.

Also, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala, has announced that they will screen the controversial documentary on Tuesday evening in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram despite stiff opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Last week, India denounced the controversial BBC documentary series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, described as a ‘propaganda piece’ designed to push a discredited narrative. “We think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, lack of objectivity, and frankly continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a weekly media briefing.

On Saturday, the Center issued orders to Twitter and YouTube to prohibit links to the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question.”

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