Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday said that there was a need to counter “doctored narratives” that seek to run down India’s growth story.

His remarks came in the backdrop of searches by the Income Tax Department at the Mumbai and Delhi offices of British broadcaster BBC.

The searches, which the officials have dubbed a “survey operation”, were initiated on Tuesday less than a month after the BBC released a two-part documentary that examined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the communal riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002.

The government had criticised the documentary as “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative” and used emergency powers available under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to block it from being shown in the country.

While addressing a group of Indian Information Service probationers at his official residence on Wednesday, Dhankhar remarked that the dumping of information was a form of “invasion” and said that there was a need to boldly neutralise it.

“In the last decade or so, a narrative was set forth by a global news house that seeks to lay claim on its reputation and the narrative was that someone possessed weapons of mass destruction and, therefore, there is a just cause in favour of humanity to take call,” he said, according to The Indian Express.

The vice president appeared to have been referring to the BBC’s reportage about alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The claim was later proved to be false.

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was among those who had supported the claim at the time. The BBC documentary about Modi had quoted Straw on the Gujarat riots, leading to BJP supporters questioning his credibility.

“Things happened, no weapons of mass destruction,” Dhankhar said on Wednesday. “Now, if India is on the rise, sinister designs are there to set afloat a narrative by free fall of information, we have to be alert.”

The vice president said that India is rightly regarded in the world as the land of opportunity and the land of investment. “But all this can be muddied if our information mechanism is not strong,” he added.

Dhankhar also said that a vicious tendency has grown among the “so-called intelligentsia” in India to sanctify “anything coming from outside”. He said there is a need to question this tendency.

The vice president urged Indian Information Service officers to be the “real protectors of democracy and nationalism”.

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