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'BBC film shows only tip of iceberg': Sanjiv Bhatt's daughter speaks at top US press club

By Our Representative 

 The United States' premier journalists' organisation, the National Press Club (NPC), has come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for recent "attacks on journalists in India." Speaking at the screening of an episode of the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” banned in India, in the club premises, NPC President Eileen O’Reilly said, “Since Modi came to power we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his regime has suppressed the rights of its citizens to a free and independent news media."
"We at the National Press Club demand in the strongest terms that the government stop its persecution of journalists and its suppression of press freedom in India”, O’Reilly said. Among those who have spoken at the high pofile NPC include US presidents, monarchs, prime ministers and premiers of different countries, members of Congress, Cabinet officials, ambassadors, scholars, entertainers, business leaders and athletes.
Speaking at the panel discussion which followed the screening of the documentary which recalled 2002 Gujarat riots, Imran Dawood, a British citizen, said the rioters carried out “targeted attacks on Muslims,” using “the same tactics as in Nazi Germany.”
Imran's uncle Yusuf Dawood, calling himself spokesperson for the family, told the audience that it took until August 2002, six months after the riots, to even get confirmation of the murders of his family members -- what he called a sign of an official cover-up. “Everything we do in the UK is completely opposite of what happens in India,” he added.
Yusuf Dawood noted, bootleg copies of the documentary are circulating underground in India, but not on social media that he called “a billionaire's club” run by the likes of Elon Musk, which he said are “poking a hot needle into our values.”
Much of the panel's discussion focused on India's attempts to keep the documentary from reaching Indian audiences. Aakashi Bhatt, daughter of jailed former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, told participants that many of India's institutions, including the media and judiciary, “are subverted from top to bottom” and “used by the regime to do its dirty work.”
She said, after her father testified publicly against Modi’s complicity in the riots, the Indian government bulldozed her family home. Commenting on her father's life imprisonment shortly after this destruction, she said, “My father was arrested for the death in custody of a man he never met. He was thousands of kilometres away while the man died in police custody, which was a death deemed to be from medical reasons. His arrest is a complete sham."
Aakashi Bhatt further said, the BBC documentary was only the “tip of the iceberg” when it came to Modi’s complicity. “These were not spontaneous but orchestrated killings,” she stated. “They did not last for three days, as the documentary said, but rather three months. Police not only stood down, but in fact aided and abetted the rioters as they raped and killed Muslims. And so much of it was due to one man's political ambition: Narendra Modi.”
The NPC and the National Press Club Journalism Institute on January 30 are known to have released a statement on the decision by the government of India to censor the airing of the BBC news documentary. “We strongly urge the government of India to rescind its ban on the BBC documentary and to allow the citizens of India to decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with its findings,” it had said.
Steve Reilly, governor on the National Press Club board, who also condemned the Modi government's "attacks on free press", including its recent ban of the BBC documentary, introduced the screening of the film, which, it was claimed "showcases decades of evidence showing how Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is centrally responsible for the violence of the Gujarat Pogrom of 2002."



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