Govt to stop BBC interview of rape convict, producer says no

Delhi rape case convict's interview raises concerns and the cops act

GN Bureau | March 4, 2015


#bbc documentary   #december 16 gangrape   #delhi gangrape case  

As the lawmakers condemned the interview on Wednesday, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that suitable steps would be taken to prevent proposed broadcast of the BBC documentary on the Nirbhaya rape case and interview with convict Mukesh Singh violates his ministry's programming code, and added.

Blaming the previous UPA regime for giving permission to the BBC correspondent to interview Singh, Rathore said the NDA Government has issued an advisory against the broadcast.

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Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier in the day clarified that terms and conditions for the shooting were violated.

"In 2013, the previous government had given permission to a correspondent from BBC to interview the accused in Nirbhaya rape case. This broadcast is now being supposedly telecast on a certain date as a documentary," said Rathore.

"The Home Ministry has objected to it citing reasons and Information Broadcasting Ministry has issued an advisory because the whole broadcast and its content violates the programming code of the Information Broadcasting Ministry, wherein, there is derogatory language towards women. It seems to incite violence against women," he added.

Rathore further said that there is a contempt of court in the context of the interview because the matter is still sub-judice and perhaps will create a law and order situation.

"It also creates a sense of fear in the women in our society. Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and it is important for the media as well to try and promagulate the constitutional string our nation. We have issued an advisory to this effect and would request the media to adhere to it," he added.

Filmmaker firm on telecast

The interview was done by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin.  The maker of the documentary film about the December 2012 fatal gang rape said it will be released as planned even after a Delhi court banned anyone from broadcasting the documentary on grounds of "objectionable content".

Leslee Udwin's ‘India's Daughter’ features conversations with Mukesh Singh and fellow convicts who raped and tortured a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus, sparking nationwide protests and forcing the government to toughen anti-rape laws.

"I am deeply saddened by this ban, this is not reasoned behaviour," Udwin told a news agency. She was firm in declining to delete about 9-minute footage of Singh's interview in the documentary.

The rape victim's parents support the film, she said.

The British filmmaker worked with Indian journalist, Dibang, for 2 years to film the hour-long documentary, culled from 31 hours of interviews with the rapists in Delhi's Tihar Jail, South Asia's largest prison complex.

Udwin, producer of the 1999 British cult comedy "East is East" and its sequel, said she was inspired to make the film after watching thousands of people taking to the streets across India in protest against the Delhi gang rape.

The documentary

The documentary has four versions of different lengths for international audiences, film festivals, BBC and NDTV.

Comments released to the media this week showed that in the film, Mukesh blames the victim for the crime and resisting rape. He also says women are more responsible than men for rapes.

Portions of the interview -- in which the death row inmate was seen blaming the woman for the brutal assault -- have appeared in the media and on YouTube.

The physiotherapy student was raped and assaulted with an iron rod after she was tricked into boarding an unregistered private bus to go home with a male friend. Her companion was beaten up and could not come to her aid while the assault was being carried out. The two were later dumped naked and bleeding on the roadside.

The woman died at a Singapore hospital 13 days after the attack.

The film had been scheduled to premiere in India and several countries such as Britain and Denmark on March 8 on International Women's Day. Udwin, a rape victim herself, said the film would be released worldwide as planned.

Govt stand on the issue

Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said the government has taken necessary action to stop the telecast of the documentary.

Making a statement in Rajya Sabha, the home minister said the government will not allow to leverage such incidents for commercial use.

"It has come to the notice that the said interview was scheduled to be telecast by BBC-4 on International Women's Day on March 8," he said.

"Our government condemns the incident of 2012. The government has taken necessary action and secured a court order restraining telecast of the film," the minister added.

The issue forced the adjournment of Rajya Sabha for 15 minutes amidst noisy scenes earlier as members expressed outrage over the interview.

The minister also summoned Delhi's director general of prisons Alok Kumar Verma. He had spoken to Verma on Tuesday as well asking him for the reasons for allowing the interview in Tihar jail.

Delhi cops act

"A court has passed (an) order prohibiting the publication and transmission of the interview till further orders," said Rajan Bhagat, a spokesperson for Delhi Police.

Delhi Police had obtained a court order late on Tuesday. Delhi Police had on Tuesday registered an FIR against unknown persons and said they would move court seeking a restraining order to stop the airing of the interview. The information and broadcasting ministry later sent an advisory to all news channels telling them not to carry the story.

The FIR was registered under sections 504 (insult to provoke breach of peace), 505 (1) B (cause fear or alarm to public) and 509 (word, act to insult modesty of woman) of the Indian Penal Code and section 66 (A) of the IT Act, which empowers the police to make arrests over social media posts.

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