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BBC Telecasts Delhi Gang Rape Documentary Banned In India

While the Modi government banned its viewing in India, BBC aired "India's Daughter," a documentary on the Delhi gang rape by Israeli-born British director Leslee Udwin, on Wednesday night in the United Kingdom (3:30 am Thursday morning in India).

In a statement, the BBC said, "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."

The BBC originally planned to air the documentary on March 8, International Women's Day, but brought its transmission date forward after Indian leaders said the government would also try to ban the film from airing abroad.

"We can ban the documentary in India but there is a conspiracy to defame India and the documentary can be telecast outside. We will also be examining what should be done", said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu. "The Home Minister has said he will talk to the I&B Minister and find out what is the way."

On Wednesday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the BBC, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to ensure that the documentary is not broadcast anywhere in the world.

The documentary has kicked off a storm of controversy in India because it features an interview with one of the convicted men, who blames the victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, for the brutal gang rape in a moving bus on December 16, 2012. The victim and a male friend, who was also beaten, were thrown off the bus in a nearly naked state. She died two weeks after the horrific attack perpetrated by five men and a minor.

The victim came to be called Nirbhaya (fearless) for fighting off the men, who brutalised her with an iron rod, and then battling for her life in hospital. The deadly attack, which set off massive demonstrations, led to the enactment of stringent rape laws. In 2012, four adults were given the death penalty in the Delhi gang rape case, one died in prison and the juvenile received three years imprisonment in a correction facility.

Mukesh Singh, the driver of the bus, who is presently being held in Tihar jail in Delhi, blamed Nirbhaya for being outside home at a "late” hour. “You can’t clap with one hand--it takes two hands. A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy," he told BBC in an exclusive video interview. "Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 per cent of girls are good," he said.

The Indian government doesn't want such repugnant views, which could spark outrage and threaten public order to be broadcast in the country.

“As per the news reports, BBC and NDTV 24X7 are scheduled to telecast the interview on March 8, 2015. In case the interview is telecast, it may lead to widespread public outcry and a serious law and order problem, as had happened in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang-rape case,” the police said in a statement.

“Therefore, in the interest of justice and maintenance of public order, an application was made in the court of Ld. MM seeking restraining order from publishing, transmitting, uploading or broadcasting the interview,” the statement said.

The Telegraph described the documentary, which aired on the BBC 4 Channel, as "chilling," "overpowering" and "verged on unwatchable." "Peering behind the headlines and the hysteria, Leslee Udwin’s overpowering documentary featured interviews with a wide range of people connected to the case: not only Singh’s dignified parents, but also one of the rapists, another rapist’s young wife and the parents of two more of the culprits," it said.

Udwin reportedly left India on Wednesday night amidst reports that she might be arrested by the Indian government. "This was my gift to India and it was rejected even before it was released. I am deeply saddened I have to leave under these circumstances but I also have promotions lined up in New York and London. I would have wanted to stay on and fight till the end," she told the Hindustan Times. She made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi "to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film".

But the Delhi police has also asked Udwin to make herself available for questioning by Monday. “Several lacunae have come to light in relation to the way in which Ms. Udwin sought, received and utilised permission to interview Mukesh Singh in the vicinity of the Tihar Jail,” a police official said, according to The Hindu. “We have reason to believe that some information was concealed deliberately on her part while seeking a nod from the jail authorities to broadcast it."

On Tuesday, the Delhi police also registered an FIR (without naming any one specific) in connection with the interview. The FIR has been registered under several IPC sections 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) 505(1)(b) (With intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public), 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and section 66A of the IT Act (Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service) at the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police.

On Wednesday, Home Minister Singh summoned Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi, and Tihar Jail Director General Alok Kumar Verma to understand how the filmmakers had received access to the convicted man. Singh said that he would investigate the matter fully. Udwin has told the media that she had sought and received permission from the then Director General of Tihar Jail Vimal Mehra

In the documentary, the convicted man also said that Nirbhaya should have not fought back but "submitted herself quietly" to the rape.“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 said.

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