Denying the allegation that she interviewed 16/12 convict Mukesh Singh before his conviction in September 2013, British filmmaker Leslee Udwin has said the charge was cooked up by “prison authorities” in “yet another attempt… to attack perfectly sound prison permissions”.
“We did not interview Singh until early to mid-October,” Udwin told HT, adding that “the proof is both in the dates of Mukesh’s signature, which was presented to him prior to interviewing and in the date of the films rushes.”
Asked about the discrepancy in the convict’s clothing, Udwin replied, “I cannot comment on Mukesh’s clothing, that is a question for the prison authorities”.
HT had been first to report that Singh’s lawyer ML Sharma’s alleged that Udwin herself had admitted to interviewing his client in September while he was still an undertrial.
Sharma’s claims were supported by Singh’s first interview —at 5.26 minutes into the movie, recorded inside Tihar — showing him wearing a black and white checked shirt. As per the jail manual, only undertrial prisoners wear casual clothes. A convicted prisoner wears the jail uniform at all times.
An interview with Singh prior to his conviction would have been a violation of the permission given by the Ministry of home affairs to the filmmaker. As per MHA, Udwin was only allowed to speak with “convicted rapists.”
Udwin further denied allegations that her co-producer Dibang had conducted several of the interviews, and that her involvement in India’s daughter was last minute.
“I was present every single second for every bit of the interview we shot,” she told HT.
On questions as to whether Singh was presented with only an English consent form Udwin gave HT a copy of a consent form in Hindi, saying Singh had been given and had signed both. “Please urge the good and forward looking people of india, of whom I know there is a great multitude of, to stop these petty attempts to deflect from the real issue — we must stop gender inequality across the world,” she said.
HT tried to contact Tihar officials but no one was available for comments.