Humanity was once again shamed in Uttar Pradesh on Monday when the government’s apathy saw a rape victim’s father succumbing to his injuries while in the alleged custody of the state police. This was a day after the family of Unnao rape victim attempted a mass suicide outside the official residence of the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow.
As expected the family was prevented from ending their lives while the cops arrested the father. The deceased’s daughter alleged that her father was assaulted by the brother of BJP MLA from Unnao, Kuldeep Singh Sengar. She said that her father had sustained multiple injuries after the BJP MLA’s brother and some of his accomplices beat him up some days ago. There are reports that the father of the alleged rape victim was also beaten up by cops in the custody.
“The man was admitted to the hospital last night after he complained of abdominal pain and vomiting. He passed away in the early morning hours,” Dr Atul, District hospital of Unnao told ANI about the father of the alleged rape victim.
UP Police’s role came under considerable condemnation for its failure to take any punitive action against the rape accused BJP MLA. Far from being perturbed, Sengar arrived to meet Adityanath in the late afternoon. His smiling photo smacked of his disdain to the law enforcing agencies and the victim’s family.
The death of the UP rape victim’s father evoked strong outrage with many journalists questioning the priority of the members of the media fraternity. Many began to draw a parallel between the channels’ coverage of a political story developing from Delhi, where Congress President Rahul Gandhi was sitting on a fast in protest of the communal disharmony under the BJP rule with the death of an alleged rape victims father in Unnao.
Gandhi’s fast at Rajghat was marred by a couple of other developments. First Jagdish Tytler, an accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, was asked to leave the stage. Moments later, a photo of a few Congress leaders from the party’s Delhi unit enjoying a sumptuous meal before sitting on a fast went viral.
The usual suspects in the media, namely Republic TV and Times Now found the embarrassing development related to Gandhi’s fast simply too mouth-watering and went overboard with their coverage. Both the channels soon deployed their crew outside the restaurant, where Ajay Maken, Haroon Yusuf and Arvinder Singh Lovely were seen enjoying Chhole Bhature early in the morning.
Clearly, both the channels saw plenty of editorial value for a blow-by-blow coverage in the Chhole Bhature story. Here’s how both the channels covered the story. This will illustrate just which of the two stories found more prominence among the editors of the two channels.
By 6.49 PM, Republic TV had posted 30 tweets using three different hashtags starting with #RahulAtRajghat to #RahulFastDrama and #RejectCastePolitics. In contrast, the channel had posted just two tweets on the tragic death of the rape victim’s father in Uttar Pradesh #UnnaoRapeCharge. In fact, the wording of the channel’s hashtag amply illustrated their reluctance to provide significant coverage to a story that ought to haunt all of us human beings, let alone the media fraternity.
In fact, while the channel used dramatic visuals of its founder Arnab Goswami each time it sought to corner the Congress party using three hashtags, it simply played safe on the death of the rape victim’s father due to the Yogi government’s inaction. In fact, its hashtag even sounded a touch sympathetic to the rape accused BJP MLA since it implied it was only a ‘charge’ or allegation. Goswami’s channel was however more than judgmental in all its tweets targeting the Congress party. On the Unnao story, the channel did not appear keen to run a campaign against the BJP MLA, who’s been accused of rape. Usually, quick to judge, the channel did not see any rationale in putting Adityanath in the dock.
Since the launch of Republic TV by its former editor-in-chief, Times Now has been forced to play second fiddle to the the former after the latter was dislodged from its number 1 position. However, on Monday, the channel’s coverage was pleasantly surprising as it posted not one but two scathing tweets targeting Adityanath. It also attempted to outdo Republic TV on Congress story using hashtags #CongFastOrFiction, #CongKaFastFood and #CongLovelyFast, but its coverage on Unnao rape victim was relatively better.
Times Now had posted 22 tweets on Congress President’s fast by 6.49 PM, but its number of tweets on Unnao rape victim was 15. The channel also asked a direct question and invited audience reactions. One of its tweets read, “Will Yogi’s police book this MLA? Call us on… and tweet using #DontSpareBJPMLAKuldeep.
Will CM Yogi's police book this MLA?
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) April 9, 2018
It launched a separate hashtag #BJPMLARapeCharge and asked, “Minor raped. BJP named. MLA roams free. Is this Yogi’s Ram Rajya? Tweet with using #BJPMLARapeCharge.”
In conclusion, the antics of a few Congress leaders ahead of their fast was at best a passing story. But what happened in Unnao was the shaming of humanity. Channels like Republic TV proved once again what its definition of journalism was.
(Since we published this report, Republic TV decided to do a debate on the alleged custodial death of the rape victim. But, not before Goswami devoted good one hour discussing Rahul Gandhi’s fast.)