Home / News / India /  'Not familiar with documentary, but…': US on BBC documentary on PM Modi `

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday said that he was not familiar with the BBC documentary on Indian Prime Minister, however, he added that he was very familiar with the shared values that enact the both the nations as two thriving and vibrant democracies.

Price was responding to a media query on a BBC documentary on PM Modi which has sparked controversy since its release.

While addressing a press briefing on Monday, Price said that there are numerous elements that bolster the US' global strategic partnership with India which include political, economic and exceptionally deep people-to-people ties.

Also Read: BBC Modi documentary: In Govt vs Opposition, blocked links resurface on Twitter

"I'm not familiar with the documentary you're referring to. I am very familiar with the shared values that enact the United States and India as two thriving, vibrant democracies. When we have concerns about actions that are taken in India, we've voiced those we've had an occasion to do that," he said.

Calling India's democracy a vibrant one, he said "we look to everything that ties us together, and we look to reinforce all of those elements that tie us together," as he underlined the diplomatic ties that US and India share with each other.

BBC released a documentary called India: The Modi Question. The first episode of the docu-series was aired on Tuesday and was removed from YouTube on Wednesday. The second part of the series is scheduled to be broadcast on January 24. The series looks into Narendra Modi's time as the chief minister of Gujarat. According to the BBC, the documentary will examines how "Narendra Modi's premiership has been dogged by persistent allegations about the attitude of his government towards India's Muslim population."

Price also stressed the fact that the partnership that the US shares with India is exceptionally deep and that both nations share the values that are common to American democracy and to Indian democracy.

"I'm not aware of this documentary that you point to, but I will say broadly, is that there are a number of elements that undergird the global strategic partnership that we have with our Indian partners. There are close political ties, there are economic ties, there are exceptionally deep people-to-people ties between the United States and India. But one of those additional elements are the values that we share the values that are common to American democracy and to Indian democracy," he added.

Last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi and distanced himself from the BBC documentary series, saying he "doesn't agree with the characterisation" of his Indian counterpart.

Sunak made these remarks on the controversial documentary that was raised in the British Parliament by Pakistan-origin MP Imran Hussain.

On 21 January, Centre had also directed the officials to block multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question", sources said as quoted by news agency PTI. Sources also informed that the directions were reportedly issued by the Secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Apurva Chandra on Friday using the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021.

Meanwhile, The Ministry of External Affairs responded to the BBC story by claiming that it was entirely biased.

While addressing a weekly presser in New Delhi, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "We think this is a propaganda piece. This has no objectivity. This is biased. Do note that this hasn't been screened in India. We don't want to answer more on this so that this doesn't get much dignity."

He even raised questions on "the purpose of the exercise and the agenda behind it. "The documentary is a reflection of the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of the exercise and the agenda behind it; frankly, we do not wish to dignify these efforts," he added.

Referring to apparent remarks made by former UK Secretary Jack Straw in the documentary series, Bagchi said "He (Jack Straw) seems to be referring to some internal UK report. How do I have access to that? It's a 20-year-old report. Why would we jump on it now? Just because Jack Straw says it how do they lend it that much legitimacy."

"I heard words like inquiry and investigations. There is a reason why we use the colonial mindset. We don't use words loosely. What inquiry they were diplomats there...investigation, are they ruling the country?" Bagchi asked.

Prominent Indian-origin UK citizens condemned the series. Prominent UK citizen Lord Rami Ranger said the "BBC caused a great deal of hurt to over a billion Indians."

Furthermore, the US Department spokesperson also said that the US has always called for regional stability in South Asia and that its relationships with India and Pakistan stand on their own.

He further stated that the pace and scope of dialogue between India and Pakistan is clearly a matter for the two countries.

'We've long called for regional stability in South Asia. Our relationships with India & Pakistan stand on their own and we don't see them as zero-sum. But pace, scope & character of any dialogue between India & Pakistan is a matter for the two countries," Price said during the briefing. 

(With inputs from ANI)

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