Monday, July 14, 2008

Aarushi Murder Case - Media circus and Police incompetency

So Finally Aarushi Talwar murder case is solved. Finally I hope. Unless there is some other hidden twist in this tale. After all, what can you expect when a murder investigation is done in full public view and media glare and when every day you have a new person being suspected for murder? It is not unusual for some investigations to take longer but Arushi murder case stands out not for investigation but the way it was (un)done by Police and circus which media created around it. Every news channel followed this "breaking story" like a mad hound. As if it was only murder committed in this country. What was even worse was the way all news channels shamelessly hounded Talwar family and others involved and ran theories as breaking news. There were stories of Aaruhsi's father being the murderer, insinuation of his affair with a woman and worse of all stories on Aarushi's character and hint of incest.

That there is something rotten with law and policing in this country is not something unknown. This is a country where suspects can be kept in jails for years waiting for their cases to be judged, police can be easily bribed and investigations are often botched up and superficial. But in Arushi's case, the media had created an unholy alliance with incompetent Police to feed us half cooked stories and lies as breaking news just to keep their 24 hours channels running. Every news channel was trying to come out with its own version of truth and investigations. Investigations, done in studio rooms with graphics and animation and by hyper news presenters asking viewers to vote who they think were the murderers. An Entire nation was turned into detective. A new form of collective wisdom perhaps where murder mysteries would be solved in news rooms and by news polls and not by hard and objective investigation. All ethics of journalism were compromised on alter of one- up-manship and TRP race. Firstly, illiterate police officers leaked absolutely private details of Arushi to media and then Media did nothing but feed on it. Whatever happened to a minor's rights of privacy? Few things come out of this case for us a society to introspect:

police force is unable to do any investigation in a scientific and modern way. They are too prejudiced and biased to employ objective judgement to crack a case. They also appear virtually illiterate and have no knowledge of a person’s (dead or suspect) right to privacy. If CBI has to be called out in every other case, then what happens to all those cases which don’t get as much press and CBI involvement as this one did? And when police officers who botched up the case would be punished, if at all? Dont we need massive overhauling of our police force to bring them out of medieval mindeset and methods or is it that Police has forgotten how to investigate as it has beocme merely a coercise tool in hand of state?

News Media is fast turning out into a parody and circus of speculations and theories. It has forgotten all journalistic values and ethics and is high on its power and privileges. It thinks nothing about runing speculations as stories on a 14 years old girl's private life. It thinks that it is not answerable to anybody and can do anything in name of freedom of press. It is not able to self-regulate it and it is about time that someone else (State!!) did it. As my friend, says "you can’t really expect bunch of kids to self-regulate, they need bit of parental control". And presently, Indian news media, especially news channels are nothing more than quarrelsome bunch of kids. They need little rap on their knuckles.

There no privacy laws in this country. Anybody suspected of anything can be hounded by media, their names and pictures splashed 24 hours on TV. All kinds of insinuations can be mixed with fiction and drama to cook up a truth. Can Talwars now sue all those news channels which ran day long stories on them and had camped in front of their house? And why not!

A voyeuristic society ? As the case was unfolding "live" on news channels, there were reports of some production house planning to make movie or TV show based on Arushi's life , even before truth was revealed and investigations were over. That was clearly insensitive and indication of how voyeuristic we have really become . Afterall, if there is 24 hours coverage of a murder , trial by media and attempt to make TV shows on a tragedy, then there must be because many of us want to watch this on our TV sets. Is it an indication that we are becoming a voyeuristic society now where news , entertainment, gossips, halftruths are all mixed together in a heady concoction of 24 hours news sprinkled with advertisement breaks?


Innocent Warrior said...

How true!!!

There has to be some regulations on the TV channels. I think since the elections are coming govt doent want to imply it now.

On the other hand, news channels were agreed to come up with the self regulation guide lines, but still its not done.

When they will understand the objective of the tournalism. :(

Aryan said...

Good one :)
Found your comment on one of my post related to this topic. Hope you have been reading my other posts on Indian media. Its really agonizing how insensitive and incompetent the police proved itself during this investigation. The media simply went overboard! Isnt this the first case that has been tried by the media full fledgedly and parallely with the encforcement agencies?

IMHO its time Indian media draw the line for itself. Any sort of control of press and media is unacceptable in our civil society but in cases like these, the TV channels violate journalistic ethics to such an extent that they cease to belong to "the press."

Gaurav said...

Thanks Abhijeet and Aryan for visiting.

Aryan, I think Indian news channels are too immature. They are acting as gossip tabloids and pretending to be responsible press. Worse is that the malaise is rubbing off to each others... They need some introspection sooner than later...

amreekandesi said...

Arushi murder case was one prime case of the lack of competence of indian news channels.

Now these past few days Mumbai has provided another glaring example!

Anonymous said...

A nation of cruel bloodsuckers.
It is the police and media which should be tried. Thousands of other examples of police incompetence and brutality were not enough to suppress the urge of sensationlism/voyeurism of the breaking news brigade.

Too much loose talk and minimal introspection. That's our lot.
Do the rest of the world need us?
The thing that they do is still more frightening.