No scope for the pot calling the kettle black

    By Soroor Ahmed,,

    When on December 16 last a girl student was brutally gang-raped in a moving Delhi bus––which ultimately led to her tragic death––those in the media, and in judiciary too, launched a non-stop campaign against the political executive of the country. Be it the journalists, the lawyers, the social activists, the women’s right activists, NGOs etc all blamed the poor law and order situation in the capital for this incident. Day in and day out the Manmohan Singh and Sheila Dikshit governments were denounced and death penalty was demanded for the

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    Not only that the subaltern class and men in khadi and khaki were blamed for all the ills plaguing the country.

    Members of Assam Photojournalists Association stage a silent protest in front of Guwahati Press Club in August 2013.

    Television channels and newspapers were filled with discussions on the issue––some of them really fantastics; others came with outlandish suggestions.

    Eleven months later on the eve of the Assembly election for Delhi and four other states the country has been taken by a storm of a different kind.

    Firstly, some young woman lawyers accused none else but former Supreme Court judges of serious sexual harassment. These legal luminaries might certainly have sentenced many to long jail term for rape and other sexual crimes in their career. Yet these empowered woman victims could not dare to name these ‘honourable’ gentlemen.

    Then came the charge of snooping and the alleged involvement of Amit Shah. The latter is Man Friday of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. Once again this revelation was not made by the rival party, the Congress, but a news-portal,

    The incident only provided an opportunity to the political rivals to demand the resignation of Modi as the young woman architect was stalked by the police, intelligence and ATS in Gujarat allegedly at the instance of the state government. More than BJP’s spokesmen, it was the saffron party’s spokeswomen, who are seen on various TV channels stoutly defending Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

    Then came another sting operation exposing the funding of Aam Admi Party. Not only that none else but Anna Hazare expressed his displeasure over the collection of funds in his name by AAP. Ironically all these people were involved in the crusade against corruption, but now there are serious differences within. Arvind Kejriwal is, to use his own expression, very very sad.

    Then came the sensational case of allegation of serious sexual misconduct against the Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka magazine, Tarun Tejpal––the man known for a new brand of journalism. Not once but twice he tried to outrage the modesty of a young journalist, who incidentally is a good friend of his daughter. These incidents happened in a Goa hotel and sent a shock wave throughout the country.

    The journalist fraternity condemned them. But then the reaction was much sharper within the Fourth Estate as the victim herself is the daughter of a very senior journalist. Otherwise the story might have been different.

    Incidentally the magazine’s Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhary, though a woman, was found wanting. It is somewhat natural for her as Tejpal is also the proprietor of Tehelka. What is strange is that none of the newspaper or television channel blamed Goa’s BJP chief minister, Manohar Parikkar, for poor law and order as the crime took place in a hotel in the state.

    If Manmohan Singh and Sheila Dikshit can be blamed for the gang-rape in a running private bus on the plea that their government failed to provide enough security on the roads, then by that strange logic the Manohar Parikkar government of Goa should also quit as it failed to check almost similar case in a hotel in his state.

    The truth is that in private now these very apologists in judiciary, the media and the NGOs–– who would call every one disagreeing with them as Taliban––are now busy putting some blame on the victims too––the young journalist, lawyers and architect.

    Incidentally, all these gentlemen whose name figured in any form of sexual misconduct, are around 60 and above. The victims are of the age of daughter and almost grand-daughter. They are not lowly paid migrant labourers, bus or auto drivers, teenagers or road Romeos from the backwater of UP and Bihar, who are
    compelled to have forced bachelor life because they cannot afford to run family in metros.

    They are high-brow intellectuals and those enjoying power. But they are not just one or two. It is just incidentally that Tejpal got caught.

    If sexual misconduct simply reflects the poor law and order, as it is argued, than by that logic the law and order situation is worst in most media houses as many of these scribes––including women too––consider themselves above law and social norms. But who would demand death penalty for these high profile accused as many of the victims can never speak out.

    The following paragraph of the first page story of The Telegraph (Assault charge hits sting pioneer) on November 21 gives an idea about the real situation in media houses:

    “Tejpal’s email, in which he apologised to all colleagues, also lifts––even if partly and couched in euphemisms––an undeclared veil that has largely shrouded Indian newspapers. Not many newspapers, including The Telegraph, report on scandals involving journalists or media houses unless a police complaint is filed.”

    Though the report was filed by one of its special correspondent––as there was no by-line––it appears that the author is a woman. At least this daily had the courage to make this much confession. The involvement of members of the two important pillars of democracy––Judiciary and Fourth Estate––has raised a serious question: Has not their right to conduct trial (Judiciary) and media trial (Press) against all those involved in sexual crimes been dented?

    Soroor Ahmed is a Patna-based freelance journalist. He writes on political, social, national and international issues. His other columns are here: