CPJ censures India for blocking BBC's anti-Modi documentary, but US spokesperson sidesteps questions.

WASHINGTON -- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent watchdog body, has slammed India for banning a BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in deadly riots more than 20 years ago from being shown in the country, saying the move contradicts New Delhi's commitment to democracy.

'The Indian government's order to social media platforms to block a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an attack on the free press that flagrantly contradicts the country's stated commitment to democratic ideals,' Beh Lih Yi, CPJ's Asia programme coordinator, said in a statement released on Monday.

'Authorities must immediately restore full and unrestricted access to the documentary and withdraw regulations under the Information Technology Act that imperil press freedom and freedom of expression online,' she added.

But at the State Department, Spokesperson Ned Price parried all questions about the blocking of the BBC documentary, saying he is not familiar with it, but familiar with the shared 'democratic values' that connects Washington and New Delhi.

Pressed by a correspondent about the documentary, Price again avoided his question, saying instead that there are several elements that bolster Washington's global strategic partnership with New Delhi, which include political, economic and through people-to-people ties.

'What 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 US and India,' he added.

Below is the transcript of the intense exchange between the correspondent and the State Department spokesperson:

QUESTION: Last week I had asked you about Narendra Modi and how the U.S. has compromised on some of its values. And the BBC just released a documentary on Modi on how he had butchered, and the report was just released. It was a government report. BBC just released it. It was made by a former secretary in which he has even mentioned higher number of deaths, higher numbers of women raped, and it was just done right under the nose of Narendra Modi. I have never challenged the strategic interest of the U.S. with India, but I regret the fact that since last eight years that I have been covering the State Department, I have not seen once an...

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