Maharashtra on Saturday became the fourth state to pass a resolution against the BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots, reported PTI.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena-led coalition introduced the resolution in the state Assembly, claiming that the two-part documentary attempted to malign the country’s judiciary and create a religious divide.

Besides Maharashtra, Assam, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are the three other BJP-ruled states where similar resolutions have been passed this month.

The British broadcaster had released the first part of the documentary, India: The Modi Question, on January 17. It alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the 2002 riots and that he had ordered senior police officers not to intervene.

More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the riots.

The documentary, which was not officially made available in India but was uploaded on several social media platforms, also revealed for the first time that a report commissioned by the United Kingdom government had stated that the riots had “all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing”.

The documentary drew an immediate backlash from the Modi government, which used emergency powers available under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to issue directions to block clips of it from being shared.

Other resolutions

On March 11, the Gujarat Assembly became the first BJP-ruled state to pass a resolution against the BBC documentary. The resolution had urged the Centre to take strict action against the BBC, alleging the British broadcaster aired a fabricated documentary to defame Modi and destabilise India.

“This documentary is nothing but a tool-kit to act against India,” Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi had said in the Assembly. “In psychology, you might have heard of phobia. Some media suffer from Modi-phobia or India-phobia.”

Two days later, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly became the second state to pass a similar resolution that was moved by BJP MLA Shailendra Jain and seconded by state’s Legislative Affairs minister Narottam Mishra, reported PTI.

Jain had alleged that the BBC made the documentary by misinterpreting the 2002 Gujarat riots. He said the documentary had also cast aspersions on the Indian judiciary, which amounts to contempt of court.

After this, the Assam Assembly on March 21 passed a resolution demanding strictest possible action against the BBC’s “malicious, dangerous agenda to instigate religious communities and flare religious tension and malign India’s global standing”. The resolution was introduced by BJP MLA Bhubon Pegu.

However, the resolution was opposed by the Congress, All India United Democratic Front and Communist Party of India (Maoist) MLAs. They said that it is a matter that does not concern the state Assembly.

But Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had argued that the documentary was an attack on the judiciary. “Some days ago, a Supreme Court Bench, comprising Justice AM Khan, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice CT Ravikumar, not only gave clean chit to Narendra Modi in its 450-page judgement, they also went ahead to describe the entire episode as a political conspiracy,” he added.

However, Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed, Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi and AIUDF legislator Karim Uddin Barbhuiya demanded that House Speaker Biswajit Daimary allow screening of the documentary to understand its content and then have a discussion on the resolution.