The Indian government has invoked emergency laws to block a BBC documentary examining the role of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, during riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002.
Controversy has erupted in India over the first episode of the two-part programme, India: The Modi Question, which tracked his rise through the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata party and his appointment as chief minister of Gujarat.
The BBC also uncovered memos showing that Modi’s conduct was criticised at the time by western diplomats and the British government, including in a government report which found that the riots had “all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing”.
Modi has been haunted for decades by allegations of complicity in the violence that took place during the Gujarat riots, which broke out after 59 Hindu pilgrims died on a train that had been set on fire. The fire was blamed on the state’s Muslim population.
Almost 1,000 Muslims died in violence across the state. Police were accused of standing by and Modi of not doing enough to protect the minority community from the Hindu mobs and even tacitly supporting the Hindu extremists. He has denied accusations he failed to stop the rioting and in 2013 a supreme court panel said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.