NEW DELHI – A British journalist has come under fire in India for interviewing a convict who was involved in the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old female student in 2012, sparking fresh debate over journalism ethics and the question of sub judice.
The BBC documentary featured convicted rapist Mukesh Singh, who has been sentenced to death, allegedly telling the news channel that women who go out at night have only themselves to blame if they attract the attention of gangs of male molesters.
Many Indians were angered when Mukesh Singh did not show any sign of remorse for his heinous crime and had said that women should not roam around freely.
Producer Leslee Udwin defended her documentary, saying that she followed all the conditions imposed by authorities and had obtained the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Home Affairs and prison authorities to interview Mukesh Singh.
Udwin said the documentary featured not only Mukesh Singh but also family members of the victim, including her mother who was devastated by the incident.
She was quoted by CNN-IBN news channel as saying that she herself was a rape victim and had wanted people to know what was actually going in the mind of Mukesh Singh when he committed the act.
However, several pressure groups and family members of the victim interviewed by local TV channels in Delhi expressed outrage at what Mukesh Singh had said in the interview.
The groups urged authorities to stop the documentary from being aired to local audience over the BBC World news channel.
They questioned how such an interview had been allowed in the prison cell, and said BBC had totally ignored the sensitivity of locals, and Indians in general, over the brutal attack.
This prompted Delhi Police to issue a statement that they were moving the court against the airing of the controversial BBC documentary.
Delhi Police commissioner B. S. Bassi was quoted as telling a press conference that “we are going to move the court against the broadcast of such inputs”.
“This was a ghastly crime and the law has been broken; we will investigate the case,” said Bassi, according to the ABP News channel.
The documentary initiated by Udwin centred on her interview with Mukesh Singh who was one of the six youngsters involved in the sexual assault of the student on a moving bus on Dec 16, 2012.
The victim, a physiotherapy student, was raped and assaulted with an iron rod after she was tricked into boarding a bus with her male friend.
Her male companion was badly beaten up and could not come to her rescue, and the group dumped the victim on the roadside, according to news reports.
The woman succumbed to her injuries 13 days later while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Singapore. – Bernama