The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Actress skips NCW date

New Delhi, Sept. 6: Manisha Koirala today skipped her meeting with the National Commission for Women, which had befriended her in Delhi, to visit Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

Two days ago, the actress had rushed to the women’s panel, presented her case and pleaded with them to take up the matter. Commission chairperson Poornima Advani immediately called a meeting of leaders of women’s organisations who had expected to meet the actress.

However, while women leaders in Delhi were deliberating issues emerging from the controversial Ek Chhotisi Love Story, the person who had catalysed the sudden activity was paying obeisance to Thackeray in Mumbai, thanking him for his “support”.

“The last contact we had with her was day before yesterday at 4 pm,” said Advani. Her office said they had received no calls from the actress cancelling her appointment with the commission.

The meeting began at noon and was under way for more than an hour with no sign of Manisha. But commission staff and mediapersons still milled about to catch a glimpse of the actress. “She is coming,” maintained Advani’s office.

But the damper finally came. Manisha was thousands of miles away from the capital and there was not even the remotest chance of her attending the meeting. There were murmurs of disappointment all around, though the panel kept a stoic front.

“We had an hour-long meeting with other women’s organisations. It began with Manisha, but went on to encompass larger issues,” said Advani. One of the main recommendations that came from the meeting was to strengthen the Indecent Representation Act.

The commission chairperson outlined the details of the actress’ last meeting with the panel members. At that time, Manisha had not got a positive verdict from Bombay High Court, staying the screening of the film.

“There will be another meeting of women’s organisations soon. And we will take up such cases of obscenity that come to our notice before filing a comprehensive litigation before the court,” said Advani.

She, however, clarified that they are not seeking a stringent code. “This is not to give credence to a ‘policeman at your elbow theory’, but to have a law that will serve its purpose. So far the biggest impediment is that the law is never implemented,” said Advani.

The women’s commission suggested that the scope of the law go beyond the print media to cover films, television and the Internet. It also suggested that the censor board have a representative of the panel or any other women’s organisation.

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