Will BBC Face ban in India?

The Indian government, upset with BBC for ignoring a court order banning the airing of a documentary carrying an interview with one of those convicted in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape, is considering a ban on BBC in India though there is huge support building up for the documentary, with people saying “don’t shoot the messenger”.

The documentary “India’s Daughter” by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin carries an interview with Mukesh Singh, one of the six men who brutally raped the young woman on December 16, 2012, who succumbed to injuries later.

While some women’s groups demanded a ban on airing of the documentary and the information and broadcasting ministry ordered all channels not to air it, the BBC went ahead and showed it on late Wednesday night. An upset Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government had asked BBC not to air it.

“We had asked the BBC not to air it but they showed it as they are independent. We are looking into the issue and will take action if there is any violation of terms and conditions,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

“We had written to the BBC asking it not to air the documentary but they went ahead telling us that it would not be shown in India,” an official told IANS.

BBC had planned to air the film on March 8, but they advanced it and showed it on March 4, the official said, wondering “what was the hurry”. The government was also mulling blocking airing of the documentary on YouTube and social media.

“They had told us that it would not be shown in India but it’s now available on YouTube. The issue is being examined and necessary action would be taken,” the official said.

The parents of the rape victim said they were against airing of the documentary. “The BBC has hurt the pride of India. The act of BBC clearly shows that they don’t have fear of Indian law and our country,” the victim’s father told IANS.

He said the BBC filmmaker had approached them before making the documentary but added that they did not inform him that it was going to contain an interview with one of the convicts.

“After making the documentary, they had come to meet me. They wanted to take my signature on a paper before releasing their documentary, but I refused to do so,” the father said.

Many people watched the BBC documentary when it was shown in the early hours of Thursday. The film fraternity has come out strongly against orders to restrain broadcast of the documentary, with some terming it a sign of “ostrich mentality”.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat said she was not for the ban on airing of the documentary.”I have seen the documentary. It is powerful and moving. It does not sensationalise anything. In our country, there are certain things enshrined along with freedom of speech,” she told IANS.

“This is the fourth time that the government has banned a documentary without viewing it,” she said. Hours after the BBC telecast “India’s Daughter”, the hash tag #IndiasDaughter became the top global trend on social networking site Twitter on Thursday.

Two other hash tags – #NirbhayaInsulted and #DontRapeAgain were also trending on second and fourth positions respectively.(IANS)

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