The BBC on Thursday said that its documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots has been made after “rigorous research according to highest editorial standards”, reported the Variety magazine.

A spokesperson told Variety that the BBC had asked the Indian government to reply to the matters raised in the documentary, but it declined to respond.

On January 17, the first episode of the two-part documentary India: The Modi Question was released. The documentary claimed that a team sent by the British government to inquire into the riots said that Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister, was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence.

The documentary cited a report the inquiry team had sent the United Kingdom government. The documentary said that the report has never been published. The second part of the documentary, which examines Modi government’s track record following his re-election in 2019, will be released on January 24.

The BBC’s clarification on the documentary came on the same day when India’sMinistry of External Affairs described it as a “propaganda piece designed to push a discredited narrative”.

“The bias, lack of objectivity and continuing colonial mindset is blatantly visible,” Arindam Bagchi, the ministry spokesperson said, on Thursday. “If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again.”

However, the BBC spokesperson told Variety that the documentary featured a range of opinions, including responses from members of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“The documentary series examines the tensions between India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority and explores the politics of India’s PM Narendra Modi in relation to those tensions,” the spokesperson said. “...A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached.”

Large-scale communal violence had erupted in Gujarat in February and March 2002 after a coach of Sabarmati Express train returning from Ayodhya was allegedly burned by a mob in Godhra. Official records show that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the riots.

The documentary claimed that the British inquiry team had concluded that the extent of violence during the 2002 riots was “much greater than reported”. It also cited “reliable contacts” as saying that Modi met senior police officers on February 27, 2002, and “ordered them not to intervene” in the rioting.

A former British senior diplomat, who was part of the inquiry team, alleged that the violence in Gujarat had been planned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the documentary showed.

However, Modi has denied the allegations that he did not do enough to prevent the riots under his administration.

A closure report by a Special Investigation Team appointed by India’s Supreme Court to inquire into the violence said in February 2012 that there was no prosecutable evidence against Modi and 63 others. A magistrate accepted the team’s report in 2013.

On June 24 last year, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition by Zakia Jafri, the wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, challenging the SIT report. Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 people who were killed when a mob went on a rampage in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002, pelting stones and setting fire to homes.