An Indian court has restricted Al Jazeera from airing or releasing a documentary on “hate crimes against Muslims” in the country, media reports said.
According to a report published in Indian news website The Wire, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday restrained the Doha-based news network from “telecasting, broadcasting or releasing” the news documentary ‘India… Who lit the Fuse?’
“The high court, considering ‘the evil consequences’ that are likely to occur on the telecast or broadcast of the film in question, has deferred the telecast pending consideration of the petition,” it said.
The petition, the report stated, was filed by Sudhir Kumar and alleged that the documentary was “likely to create hatred amongst different religious denominations and thereby destroy the secular fabric of the Indian state”.
The Wire reported that the court directed the Union government and the authorities constituted under it to “take appropriate measures warranted in law to ensure that the film is not allowed to be telecast/broadcast unless its contents are examined by the authorities, duly constituted in law for the purpose, and necessary certification/authorisation is obtained from the competent authority”.
“The court noted that Al Jazeera was not represented in court and that the film was not available for perusal. It directed the petitioner to take steps within 48 hours to serve Al Jazeera by registered/speed post and fixed July 6 as the date for admission/hearing of the writ petition,” the report added.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera described the documentary as an “investigative film on hate crimes against Muslims by Hindu supremacist groups in the country”.
The broadcaster said that the documentary was supported by “testimony and documents, it uncovers the activities of Hindu supremacist outfits, such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the far-right ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.
It added that the documentary contained an interview with an RSS defector who “reveals chilling details of his training sessions in RSS camps, allegedly overseen by members of the Indian Army”.
Al Jazeera further stated that the documentary showed the “harassment and targeting of nearly 700,000 Muslims in the northeastern state of Assam, governed by the BJP”.
The Doha-based news network added that the documentary further revealed the “widespread campaigns across multiple Indian states to demolish properties belonging to Muslims”.
The restriction follows a similar block in January on the airing of a BBC documentary that questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The documentary, ‘India: the Modi question’, focused on Modi’s leadership as chief minister of the Western state during riots in 2002 in which at least 1,000 people were killed, most of them Muslims.
The block was followed by income tax raids on BBC’s New Delhi offices and an investigation into the broadcaster in April for alleged violations of foreign exchange rules.