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The other day India took strong objection to US President Barack Obama’s comment about ‘religious intolerance’ in the country. It seems, Obama was not wrong! Even the government reflected the character, by banning a documentary film ‘India’s Daughter’. If the government cannot tolerate freedom of speech, can the country expect anything better than Obama’s comment? The issue dealt by the documentary is peculiar mindset of Indian people towards women. The issue that worried government is as to how did the film director get the permission to shoot inside Tihar jail? For government, reading the minds of rape convicts, who share equal views with millions of other Indians, is less important than to uphold the rules and ‘dignity’ of women!

One particular TV channel has been very much worried about ‘dishonour’ to Nirbhaya to be caused by the documentary. The channel is not NDTV, which had got the telecast right to air the film on March 8 along with the BBC, before the government banned it. It was but obviously clear that race for TRP prompted the vociferous editor of the rival channel to shout on top of his voice, as he always does, to blow up the issue. Many, ‘worried’ about dignity of Indian women and violation of rules in the process of making the documentary, joined the channel. They are not willing to hear even Nirbhaya’s parents, who after watching the documentary, had no objection. The parents even said the ban would bring no good to their case. They just want capital punishment to killers of their daughter.

Renowned fiction writer Chetan Bhagat said about the film – forget about ban, it’s a must watch! Any person who believes in freedom of speech would not agree any less. For the first time, any film has tried to treat a subject considered as foregone conclusion earlier. The thinking had been that a rapist is a very bad person, so he does the act, and should be given harshest punishment. Although it is a different issue that most rapists go scot-free, thanks to callous policing and legal system, none has even felt the need to read the minds of such criminals. The film’s director Leslee Udwin rightly pointed the need for understanding what the criminals feel about the crime, before going for solutions. There is need for public awareness about their thinking so that corrective measures can be adopted.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 7, 2015)