New Delhi:
Delhi University’s Arts Faculty campus saw police action as students sought to screen a BBC documentary on PM Narendra Modi even as the government has imposed restrictions.

Here is the story as it unfolded, in 10 key facts

  1. Students at Delhi University were dragged away by police from the campus on Friday evening as they sought to publicly screen a controversial BBC documentary series about PM Narendra Modi and the BJP’s alleged communal politics. This came just two days after similar scenes were witnessed at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. 

  2. Student activists said the police acted violently even though the intention was for students to peacefully watch the documentary. They also alleged that “Sanghi goons” — reference to members of the BJP’s mentor body RSS and its wings — attacked those gathered for the event too. Are police in-charge Sagar Singh Kalsi said 24 students were detained and the situation is now “back to normal”.

  3. University officials said no permission was sought for a public screening and there were also orders issued by the district administration against any mass gathering. DU Chief Proctor Rajni Abbi, who called the cops, saw justification in the police action. “Yes, students have been detained. Have they taken permission? When police have imposed Section 144, why have they collected?” she said. She alleged that the students were “not even interested” in showing the documentary. “They just want disruptive things.”

  4. The two-part series, which references the 2002 Gujarat riots and recent incidents of communal violence, has been termed by the central government as false and motivated propaganda. The government has used emergency powers to force social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter to take it down.

  5. Ahead of screening that was planned for 5.30 pm, large number of students — led by those belonging to Left parties and other Opposition parties — gathered at DU Arts Faculty area and protested imposition of Section 144 in the area to stop the screening.

  6. Clashes erupted as right-wing student groups allegedly came to protest against the event. Those wanting the screening raised slogans of “Delhi police, go back”, and the police began detaining some people who were allegedly “not students, but anti-social elements”.

  7. “We were about to start the screening when Sanghi goons attacked us and started dragging those gathered for it. Police closed the gates and did not allow people to enter for the event,” said a student who had come for the screening from the DU-affiliated Hindu College.

  8. The DU official said holding a mass screening was the point of contention. “They can watch it at their homes; who’s stopping them?” said Chief Proctor Rajni Abbi, adding that she suspected they were outsiders. About police violently dragging students, she said, “Why are they here, first of all? [The screening] is not allowed here.”

  9. The screening attempt was at the latest of such protests events held across the country, including in Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. Opposition parties have slammed the BJP for trying to ban the documentary altogether. Student groups have led the protests.

  10. The BBC has defended the series as a “rigorously researched” piece of journalism that wants to highlight important issues.

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