Rival groups screen BBC documentary, ‘The Kashmir Files’ at Hyderabad University

For a second time in less than a week, BBC’s controversial documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 2002 Gujarat riots was screened by a group of students at University of Hyderabad while the rival group responded with the screening of Hindi film ‘The Kashmir Files’.

The screenings late on Thursday triggered mild tension on the campus of the central university, also known as Hyderabad Central University (HCU)

Students Federation of India (SFI)-HCU organised screening of the documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ on the Republic Day.

“More than 400 students turned out for the screening rejecting the false propaganda and the attempts of ABVP to create unrest and the administration to disrupt the screening of the documentary,” the SFI-HCU said in a social media post.

“SFI-HCU salutes the student community who have stood for freedom of expression and campus democracy,” it added.

As a counter to the SFI programme, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) organised screening of ‘The Kashmir Files’ based on the exodus of Hindus from Kashmir due to killings by Pakistan-backed terrorists.

There was mild tension when a group of students belonging to ABVP staged a protest at the main gate against the university authorities for not allowing equipment for screening of the movie into the campus.

ABVP leaders alleged that the security staff manhandled the ABVP workers when they were bringing the projector. They wanted to know how SFI was allowed to bring projector and other equipment to the university premises.

Both the groups went ahead with the screening despite an appeal by the university administration not to do any screening on the campus. According to UoH Registrar Devesh Nigam, Dean-Students’ Welfare had counselled the student groups not to organise any screening in view of the law and order issue. The student groups were urged to maintain peace and tranquility in view of the forthcoming end semester exams starting next week.

Earlier, on January 21, a student group had organised a screening of BBC documentary without permission from university authorities.

Visuals of some students watching the documentary in an open area on the campus went viral on social media after the same were posted by a group called Fraternity Movement.

The organisers had put up a projector to screen the first part of the documentary series.

“BBC documentary ‘India : The Modi Question’ which was removed from YouTube screened in HCU by the Fraternity Movement- HCU unit,” reads a tweet from the Twitter handle of Fraternity Movement on January 21.

ABVP lodged a complaint with the university authorities about the screening of the controversial documentary of the British broadcaster. The university officials had said that they initiated a probe and were waiting for a report from the security department.

Police said they have received information about screening of the documentary on the university campus but no written complaint was filed.

The screening was reportedly organised at Resistance Area on the campus where massive protests were held in 2016 after a Dalit student Rohith Vemula had committed suicide due to alleged harassment by university authorities.

The Central government condemned the BBC documentary series describing it as propaganda to push a discredited narrative.

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