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Indian network in silent protest over film ban

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A leading Indian television network that was to broadcast a documentary about the 2012 Delhi gang rape halted programming in protest at the banning of the film, officials and news reports said Monday.

India’s Daughters, a documentary made by British film-maker Leslee Udwin, was to be broadcast on Indian channel NDTV on International Women’s Day on Sunday.

But the government banned the documentary, saying it contained objectionable remarks about women by a convicted rapist as well as two defence lawyers who were featured in the film.

Instead of filling in with another programme, NDTV ran a black screen showing a burning lamp and the film’s title, during the hour-long slot when it was to be aired.

“We won’t shout, but we will be heard,” NDTV’s editorial director Sonia Singh wrote in tweet, referring to the protest.

The ban on the film has triggered a heated debate but the decision came in for praise from the domestic media as well as online users.

“Well done NDTV for protesting so meaningfully against the ban on India’s Daughters: a blank hour to register censorship,” noted journalist Tavleen Singh tweeted.

Despite the ban, hundreds of thousands of people had managed to watch the documentary online.

In another protest against the ban, an activist, arranged a public screening in northern India on Sunday evening, the Times of India daily reported. Many among the 70 villagers who saw the film, demanded the government revoke the ban.

While senior ministers say the film was a conspiracy to defame India, Udwin has accused New Delhi of trying to ban free speech.

Although India introduced tougher anti-rape laws following the rape of the Delhi student in December 2012, sexual assaults continue unabated in India.

Local media reported that a 23-year-old woman was gang raped by unidentified men in a car in the northern city of Ludhiana on Sunday. SAPA

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