One of India’s leading news channels ran a blank screen with a flickering diya on Sunday March 8 during the slot when the BBC documentary India’s Daughter was to be aired.
The ticker on the screen carried reactions and opinions against the ban. This is a first in the recent times when a news organisation took a stand against government gagging in India. NDTV’s move was compared to the Emergency period when newspapers The Statesman and The Indian Express had published blank editorial pages in protest.
The government banned a screening and publication of Leslee Udwin’s documentary on the December 16, 2012 gang-rape. The gruesome nature of the act, followed by the victim’s death had stirred among people an outrage of a nature that was very unusual. It marked an important day in India’s coming of age.
In a country like ours, which remains in a state of progressive and regressive flux simultaneously, a bold step like this is an important message to put out to the government as well as the people. It needs to be understood that banning literature, films, art, stand-up roasts or any form of free speech is an anti-thesis of everything the founding fathers visioned for India – a free country.