Sunday, March 8, 2015

Was a ban on Nirbhaya documentary justified?

At the outset I must confess I have not watched the documentary because I could not find it anywhere but I have read a lot about it and have a very good idea about the contents. I think it was unwise to ban it simply because these days millions of people can upload banned stuff on millions of sites and have the authorities looking for them in vain. Anonymous netizens will upload important parts of documentary even now after youtube removed it.  A ban therefore is not practical.

Things are not hunky dory in any big European city including London from what I have heard my brother say who is a regular visitor to Europe due to his job. No Indian documentary producer has however made any documentary on violence against women  or abuse of children by clergymen in the west. An Indian film maker just cannot imagine doing it because he looks up to the west for inspiration and accolades. That said one will simply have to accept the fact that not only Delhi but a lot of Indian cities are unsafe for women and banning a documentary cannot change that. The change has to come from within the system which is rotten to the core. Every entity has played a part in rotting of the system, the government alone is not to blame. Electronic media airs news basically centred around cricket, Bollywood and TV soap operas. Is that the ideal content for news in a country where people do not know from where their next meal is going to come? If media focuses more on injustice that a common man has to put up with everyday in India, the authorities are bound to sit up and take notice. Now this documentary did just that, it showed the raw horror of what happens to a helpless victim when half a dozen delinquents totally devoid of fear of law, decide to shatter a family’s dreams.
What happened in the aftermath of Nirbhaya case was witnessed by the whole world on their TV screens. It horrified some of my friends overseas so much that they actually emailed me and asked whether it was safe for ladies in my home to stir outside the house. Banning the movie on the pretext that it shows interviews of under trials is simply not correct our very own Kiran Bedi as per a BBC journalist allowed interviews of several under trials when she was jailor of Tihar jail. Afzal Guru was interviewed while in jail too. Interview of one the rape accused Mukesh Singh is thus nothing new and if anything his very fearlessness should shake the law and order machinery out of its complacency. I have often observed that it is the innocent who is afraid of the law and order machinery and the delinquent elements think of it only as a bit of machinery that can easily be manipulated. In many ways the documentary holds a mirror to Indian society which has to bring about a sea change in its outlook where rape victims are not treated with sympathy but as people who themselves have committed a crime. That said the government must also pursue relentlessly anyone who might have broken laws to facilitate making of this documentary for monetary consideration or otherwise since the law of the land is supreme and greater than any individual. Vital changes have to be made in justice dispensation system so that unscrupulous lawyers who have no fear of law think a thousand times before making statements like the defence lawyer made on camera. We do not need vigilante justice like the recent unfortunate incidents in Dimapur in Nagaland where a mob lynched a rape accused in public about whom later people doubted whether he actually did commit the crime or not. Justice has to come from designated bodies like in any civilized society but justice must be swift and just. Banning the documentary is like sweeping the trash beneath the carpet, it just will not work.

Let us hope that with the new government at the helm there will be no need for another Nirbhaya documentary ever.