India’s foreign ministry on Thursday rejected a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling it “propaganda”, and questioning his leadership during the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots. Modi, who was prime minister in the western state of Gujarat, was hit by community unrest that left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Muslims. Riots erupted after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people.
The United Kingdom government report was never made public until it was revealed in the documentary. According to the documentary, released on Tuesday, the inquiry team claimed that Modi had prevented the police from acting to stop violence targeted at Muslims, and cited sources as saying Modi had specifically ordered authorities not to intervene. Modi denied the accusations and was exonerated in 2012 following an inquiry by India’s top court. Another petition questioning his exoneration was dismissed last year.
Under Modi, whose party has been in power since 2014, Muslims in India have repeatedly been subjected to violence and lynchings, and blatant discrimination that is often politically motivated. Hindu supremacist groups and supporters of the governing BJP have also intensified calls to turn the country into an exclusive Hindu state.
Systematic discrimination against state-sponsored Muslims includes laws banning the hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women in certain parts of the country. Other controversial laws passed over the years include the Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from neighboring countries.