Govt blocks Dec 16 documentary, filmmaker says she is 'saddened'

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Agencies, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 11, 2015 15:15 IST

The maker of a documentary film about the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a woman in the Capital has 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 Reuters on Wednesday, adding she would never agree to cutting the about 9-minute footage of Singh's interview in the documentary.

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

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.

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 the House 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.

"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 Tuesday.

"He (Mukesh) had made offensive and derogatory remarks against women, creating an atmosphere of fear and tension with the possibility of public outcry."

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.

The information and broadcasting ministry also sent an advisory to all news channels telling them not to carry the story.

With a home ministry official confirmed to HT, on condition of anonymity, that final clearance for the interview came from the ministry itself in 2013.

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 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.

Mukesh's comments in India's Daughter have grabbed headlines in newspapers and sparked outrage on social media.

Four men, including Mukesh, were sentenced to death but their execution was later stayed on appeal by the Supreme Court. One of the defendants hanged himself in prison, while another, who was under 18 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to 3 years in juvenile detention.

The brutal crime triggered outrage and mass protests across the country, leading to the passing of stricter laws on sexual violence against women.

(With Reuters inputs)

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