Defying ban by India, BBC airs Nirbhaya documentary


nirbhaya-filmDefying the pressure from Indian government to censor the controversial documentary on the December 16 gang rape, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired ‘India’s Daughter’ on March 4 for a global audience, saying that the documentary had handled the issue “responsibly”. However, in a concession, the BBC said it would not telecast the documentary in India.

The documentary is based on the traumas of a young physiotherapist, Nirbhaya (a pseudonym given to the victim), who was savagely gang-raped, tortured and killed by six men on a moving bus in the capital Delhi on December 16, 2012. It has ignited a blazing controversy in India for its inclusion of the interview of Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists.

On March 4, the Indian parliament saw a massive furore over the film, with the day-long discussions concluding with the government promising an in-depth inquiry and censoring its telecast.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had told the parliament that the government had secured a court order to ban the channel from airing the documentary. He had also assured the house that the documentary would not be aired in India or abroad “under any circumstances”.

The Home Ministry, during the UPA tenure, had given an approval to British filmmaker Leslee Udwin to shoot a documentary on rape convicts inside Tihar jail. “I am stunned how permission was granted for the interview of the convict inside Tihar Jail in the first place,” Singh said in Parliament.

nirbhaya-protestsThe BBC has strongly defended the production and airing of the film. “This harrowing documentary, made with the full support and cooperation of the victim’s parents, provides a revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shock waves around the world and led to protests across India demanding changes in attitudes towards women”.

A Delhi court has restrained media from publishing, broadcasting, telecasting or uploading the interview on the internet.

The documentary includes interviews of Nirbhaya’s parents, doctors, the police and lawyers.

Nirbhaya’s father had previously reported on March 4 questioning the ban on its screening in India.

“Everyone should watch the film. If a man can speak like that in jail, imagine what he would say if he was walking free,” said Nirbhaya’s father.

However ANI, an Indian news agency, reported on March 5 a change in the position of Nirbhaya’s father on the issue. “This is an insult to country, if the channel airs it despite the ban. Had they even aired it in India I wouldn’t have had a problem, but when government bans it, I am with them,” he said to ANI.

Remorseless Convict

The documentary showed a detailed interview with Mukesh Singh, the driver of the bus, who is also charged with raping Nirbhaya. It’s a chilling interview to watch: there is not a trace of remorse as he speaks about teaching a lesson to girls who wear wrong clothes and go to discos. “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he says. “Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good.”

Most shockingly, he justifies the rape: People “had a right to teach them a lesson” he says. “When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy,” he says.