Rahul Gandhi found guilty of defaming Narendra Modi

Indian opposition leader accused of implying prime minister was a criminal in remark made in 2019

A court in India has found the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi guilty of defamation for a remark implying the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, was a criminal.

On Thursday, Gandhi, 52, was sentenced to two years in prison but was granted bail after his lawyers announced their intention to appeal.

Continue reading...
India reduces security outside UK high commission in New Delhi

Barriers also removed from high commissioner’s residence after Sikhs protest at Indian mission in London

New Delhi has reduced security outside the British high commission and the high commissioner’s residence in the Indian capital, removing the usual yellow metal barriers that provide an extra layer of protection.

Political analysts say it is retaliation for the UK police failing to stop a violent protest by Sikhs outside the Indian mission in London on Sunday when they vandalised the premises and pulled down the Indian flag.

Continue reading...
‘Bulldozer politics’: Modi’s demolition drive fuels Muslims’ fears in Kashmir

Violence and censorship rife among citizens and the media, as push to reclaim state land belies Indian government’s claims of peace in disputed region

Suhail Ahmad Shah stood despairingly before the wreckage that for two decades had been his livelihood. Just hours before, he had been busy at the workshop when he heard an ominous crunch above him and the tin roof began to cave in. He barely made his escape before a bulldozer flattened the entire place.

“No notice was served to us,” said Shah, 38. “The officials came suddenly and demolished our workshop. No one is listening to us. We’ve been paying rent. Isn’t this an atrocity? They have snatched our livelihood.”

Continue reading...
Kashmir letters cast doubt on claims Nehru blundered by agreeing ceasefire

Exclusive: papers kept classified for decades reveal India’s first PM acted on advice from most senior general

India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was urged by his most senior general to agree to a ceasefire with Pakistan in 1948, the Guardian can reveal after viewing letters on Kashmir that have been kept classified in India for decades.

The correspondence from the then commander-in-chief, Gen Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, will have significant political ramifications for the current nationalist government in Delhi, which has discredited Nehru’s decision to come to a compromise on the status of disputed Kashmir as an ill-informed “blunder”.

Continue reading...
Russia accuses west at G20 of blackmail and claims it has China’s support

Stormy meeting in Delhi breaks up without joint statement as west and Moscow spar over Ukraine

Russia has accused the west of blackmail and threats and claimed it had China’s support for its position at a stormy meeting of G20 foreign ministers in India, dominated by the war in Ukraine.

The event broke up with no joint communique, only a summary of the meeting prepared by the host, India, the group’s current chair.

Continue reading...
Western countries stay silent as India cracks down on democracy | Letter

Rajendra Kumar Kale responds to an article by Arundhati Roy on how Narendra Modi’s violent nationalism is underwritten by big business

Arundhati Roy’s article (Modi’s model is at last revealed for what it is: violent Hindu nationalism underwritten by big business, 18 February) takes an accurate overview of the two simultaneous events jinxing two shining stars of India: the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and India’s biggest industrialist, Gautam Adani. To me, there are two noteworthy messages in her article that the world, and in particular the Indian elite, must not ignore.

First, that millions of Indian voters living in abject poverty would “not remotely comprehend” what $100bn (more than 20% of India’s annual budget) even means. This is a profound statement. These voters cast their vote every five years, little knowing how powerful it is in creating an impregnable shield that protects Modi and gives him a mandate to continue his social and economic wrongdoings of gigantic proportions.

Continue reading...
Tax raids on BBC offices in India ‘deeply worrying’, says Labour

Ministers say they have raised New Delhi and Mumbai raids with their Indian counterparts

Labour has condemned raids by Indian tax authorities on BBC offices in Mumbai and New Delhi as “deeply worrying”, as ministers say they have raised the issue with their Indian counterparts.

In the first significant intervention by a main British party since last week’s raids, the shadow foreign minister Fabian Hamilton criticised the Indian authorities and expressed concern that BBC staff had been held overnight for questioning.

Continue reading...
India enjoyed a free and vibrant media. Narendra Modi’s brazen attacks are a catastrophe | Kenan Malik
The prime minister’s cynical raids on the BBC are the latest populist clampdown on a press and broadcasting ‘elite’

In January, the BBC broadcast a two-part series, India: The Modi Question, which looked forensically at the role of Narendra Modi in fomenting the Gujarat anti-Muslim riots of 2002 in which at least 1,000 people were killed. Now the prime minister of India, Modi was then the chief minister of Gujarat.

The response in India was swift. Kanchan Gupta, an adviser to the ministry of information and broadcasting, called the documentary “propaganda and anti-India garbage” that “reflects BBC’s colonial mindset”. The BJP government invoked emergency laws to ban the documentary and any online links to clips. When students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University tried to screen the documentary, the university authorities cut off electricity to the whole campus.

Continue reading...
Modi’s model is at last revealed for what it is: violent Hindu nationalism underwritten by big business | Arundhati Roy

India’s prime minister and the billionaire Gautam Adani each benefited from the other’s rise – now their relationship is under scrutiny

India is under attack by foreign powers. Specifically the United Kingdom and the United States. Or so our government would have us believe. Why? Because former colonialists and neo-imperialists cannot tolerate our prosperity and good fortune. The attack, we are told, is aimed at the political and economic foundations of our young nation.

The covert operatives are the BBC, which in January broadcast a two-part documentary called India: The Modi Question, and a small US firm called Hindenburg Research, owned by 38-year-old Nathan Anderson, which specialises in what is known as activist short-selling.

Continue reading...
Indian journalists say BBC raid part of drive to intimidate media

Media staff targeted for criticising BJP government fear tax raid is escalation of coercion

“Did BBC Take Cash From China For Propaganda?” ran the opening title on the primetime news debate. As the flashy graphics of Republic TV, India’s hardline and overwhelmingly popular news channel, faded and its presenter Arnab Goswami appeared on the screen, he addressed millions of viewers across the country directly. “Ladies and gentlemen, our worst suspicions have been proved absolutely correct,” he said. “The BBC is funded by China.”

Two weeks later, on Tuesday, more than 50 officers from the income tax department descended on the Delhi and Mumbai offices of the BBC. Over the course of three days, officials went through documents, searched emails and cloned phones and laptops, according to BBC employees who were inside the building. At least 10 BBC employees, including five senior editors, were kept there for three nights until the “tax survey” was finally completed on Friday.

Continue reading...
India accuses BBC of tax evasion amid Modi documentary row

Country’s finance ministry claims broadcaster has not fully declared its income and profits

India’s finance ministry has accused the BBC of tax evasion, saying that it had not fully declared its income and profits from its operations in the country.

Indian tax authorities ended three days of searches of the British broadcaster’s Delhi and Mumbai offices on Thursday night. Opposition political parties and other media organisations have criticised the searches as an attempt to intimidate the media.

Continue reading...
Could trouble for Adani trip up Narendra Modi?

Repercussions from Hindenburg report reach into political sphere as spotlight falls on tight-knit relationship between India’s prime minister and the billionaire

Gautam Adani is a hard man to avoid in India. Whether it’s electricity, ports, power plants, coalmines, airports, cement, solar panels, apples, edible oils, storage of data or grains or even a television news channel, the colossal empire of India’s most powerful billionaire has reached into almost every corner of Indian life.

According to Adani, his staggering rise from a nondescript diamond merchant in Gujarat to Asia’s richest man – whose wealth at one stage surpassed Jeff Bezos – and with whom much of India’s future development has been entrusted, is due only to “hard work, hard work, hard work”. His own successes, he has said, are the successes of the “India growth story”.

Continue reading...
Tax raids at BBC offices in India enter second day

Searches in offices in Delhi and Mumbai come weeks after the release of BBC documentary critical of prime minister Narendra Modi

Raids of BBC offices by government officials in India have entered a second day as a tax investigation continues, just weeks after the release of a documentary critical of prime minister Narendra Modi.

According to reports, searches of the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai continued overnight and into Wednesday morning as officials went through documents and seized phones and laptops of journalists and employees at the broadcaster.

Continue reading...
What is the BBC Modi documentary and why is it so controversial?

‘India: the Modi Question’, examining 2002 sectarian riots, comes at sensitive time for prime minister

BBC offices in India raided

A BBC documentary on the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi’s, actions during deadly sectarian riots in 2002 continues to cause controversy, with the British broadcaster’s offices raided by India’s tax officials on Tuesday. What is the documentary and why has it proved so contentious?

Continue reading...
BBC offices in India raided by tax authorities weeks after Modi documentary released – video report

Indian tax officers searched the BBC's offices in Delhi and Mumbai on Tuesday, the broadcaster said, weeks after the government blocked a documentary critical of Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. While the search was underway, people and the media stood outside the office building near Connaught Place in central Delhi, waiting for developments. The documentary had focused on the politician's leadership as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat during the violent Hindu-Muslim riots, in which at least 1,000 people were killed. Modi's Bharatiya Janata party claimed Indian institutions worked independently and the tax department was 'within the law in looking into tax compliance'

Continue reading...