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Nirbhaya Documentary and Growing Censorship in India

Recent attempts to curb our freedoms of speech by imposing ridiculous bans and censorship on movies, videos and even the internet have let down a bit of my confidence in the Modi government, of which I am pretty much appreciative of otherwise.

Several websites including Reddit and Sourceforge were taken down for a while in the name of anti-piracy and national security, the AIB roast video was banned, the MSG movie clearance lead to quitting of censor board members, there was a list of 28 cuss words that Censor Board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani said would be banned from films, The word lesbian was banned from a recently released bollywood movie, and finally to the most of my bafflement, the BBC documentary on Nirbhaya’s rape case – India’s daughter was banned from telecasting, and even taken down from Youtube! (I don’t quite understand why the convicts are not hanged yet and that should be government’s focus, rather.)

blogI mean, for a second I wonder if we are living in India or in a Talibanized country like Pakistan where banning and censorship happen on a daily basis. First of all, why ban a video at all? (considering the hate speeches worth banning that are still out there!) HM Rajnath Singh defended the Nirbhaya documentary ban by saying something like – the video would hurt the family of the victim, it would spread the vile thought of the criminals and so on. How dumb is our government to think that it can control the minds of the criminals by cutting their access to something? What right does the government have to decide what its people should watch, read, speak or even think? Is this the freedom our constitution guarantees? Furthermore, as you are concerned about India’s reputation internationally, have you not given more publicity to the video by banning it? And don’t even think of censoring internet. It is an open architecture not limited by geographical boundaries, and it is here to stay so. You will only ridicule yourselves in your attempts to censor it.

modiBooming economy and development is one thing, Mr Modi. But as important is our democratic values, of which freedom of expression and free speech is paramount. I hope you don’t take us back to medieval times all over again.

Categories: Standing By India

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Chinmay Hegde

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