For Over 3 hours, JNU Goes Dark, Students Say bid to Block BBC Documentary

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AT 8.30 pm, barely half an hour before the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union planned to screen the first episode of the two-part BBC documentary, ‘India: The Modi Question,’ which was pulled down by YouTube and Twitter on orders from the Centre, the campus was plunged into darkness.

JNU students protest at the campus main gate (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

It was only after midnight that power was restored after a group of students, as a mark of protest against what they said was a deliberate blackout, watched parts of the documentary on their phones and laptops.JNU V-C Santishree Pandit and university Rector 1 Satish Chnadra Garkoti were not available for comment. Deputy Registrar Ravi Kant Sinha said he was not authorised to comment.“We have been told by the JNU V-C and the university Registrar that it’s a massive power failure which has affected one-third of the campus. There is no deliberate attempt to cut power,” said an official in the Union Education Ministry.However, sources said such a prolonged power cut on campus was unusual. BSES, which supplies power to the campus, had no mention of the outage on its website — its last entry for the day for “maintenance outage” in the neighbourhood was for one between 11 am and 3 pm.Said a Master’s student: “We had no electricity or internet in the hostels. We had reached out to our warden but got no response.”The power cut affected faculty housing, too, many professors told The Indian Express.In a video from campus, JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh was seen waving a sheet of paper with a QR code. “If they shut down one screen, we shall switch on hundreds,” she is heard saying.Students stand outside the JNUSU Office alleging that the JNU administration has cut off electricity supply to prevent the screening of BBC documentary India: The Modi Question, in New Delhi, Tuesday. (PTI Photo)Speaking later, she said: “JNU held screenings of movies like The Kashmir Files but we never got an advisory from the administration. This is happening for the first time.” She added that whenever there was a power cut, the campus community was “notified” by the administration “but this time we got no notice.”

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